Santa Barbara and the well-armed avenging alpha male

     Images of Chrisotper Ross Michael-Martinez are displayed as part of a makeshift memorial in front of the IV Deli Mart, where part of Friday night's mass shooting took place by a drive-by shooter in the Isla Vista area near Goleta, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    Images of Chrisotper Ross Michael-Martinez are displayed as part of a makeshift memorial in front of the IV Deli Mart, where part of Friday night's mass shooting took place by a drive-by shooter in the Isla Vista area near Goleta, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    With the latest gun massacre now in the books, let’s just skip the usual rituals — “thoughts ‘n’ prayers,” the curbside candles, the cable cliches about a community pulling together — and cut to the chase:

    The murderously misogynistic kid who manned up with bang-bangs has vividly demonstrated why the NRA’s core catechism is a blatant lie.

    The NRA’s essential premise – which so nicely serves its clients, the gun manufacturers – is that the Second Amendment protects the “right” of all Americans to buy self-protection. Our laws, during the past four decades, have been twisted and bent to that purpose. But the kid in Santa Barbara didn’t buy his semi-automatics and his 400 rounds of ammo (three stores, piece of cake) for the purpose of self-protection. Quite the opposite. He did it for the purpose of aggression.

    He said it himself, in his social media “manifesto.” He couldn’t score with girls, he thought it was “unfair,” so therefore he would get “retribution” by blasting the girls. Misogyny, entitlement, and the American gun culture – perfect synchronicity.

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    The Second Amendment (as written by the Founding Fathers) was about citizens forming state militias, and bearing arms for the purpose of military defense. But the Second Amendment (as twisted by the NRA, and indulged by cowardly politicians) empowers the aggrieved to play offense. The kid in Santa Barbara said it best. Once he had his guns, he felt “a new sense of power…the true alpha male.”

    This is what we have come to call Freedom. The “rights” of a troubled nerd are more important than the rights of people to be safe from random violence. This is our national shame.

    Yeah, I know, there’s no concrete evidence that tougher laws could’ve stopped what happened in Santa Barbara (or in the recent massacres, or in the massacres yet to come). We don’t know whether universal background checks would reduce gun violence; we don’t know how or whether more vigilant mental health measures or police practices would reduce gun violence; we don’t even know how often Americans successfully use their guns for self-protection, as opposed to aggression.

    But care to guess why we don’t know these basic things? Because, thanks to the NRA lobbyists and their factotums in Congress, the total federal money for gun violence research, during the last 18 years, has been virtually zero. I kid you not. Back in 1996, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sought to determine whether there were public safety risks in owning a gun – and the NRA’s congressional Republicans swiftly retaliated by snuffing all federal funds for gun studies. The ban on CDC research has been sustained ever since.

    Several days before the Santa Barbara shooting spree, a few Democrats – notably, Sen. Ed Markey and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney – thought it would be a nice idea to lift that ban. As Maloney points out, “In America, gun violence kills twice as many children as cancer, and yet political grandstanding has halted funding for public health research to understand this crisis.” President Obama has also agreed to include CDC gun research funding in his 2015 budget.

    The American Medical Association wants to lift the ban. So does the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. In a letter last year, those three groups wrote that “the dearth of gun violence research has contributed to the lack of meaningful progress in reducing firearms injuries,” which are “one of the top three causes of death among youth.”

    Indeed, with roughly 10,000 Americans victimized each year in gun-related homicides (that’s 30 a day), who at this point could possibly object to a renewed search for knowledge? Who could possibly oppose freedom of information?

    As if you don’t know.

    From the NRA: “The abuse of taxpayer funds for anti-gun political propaganda under the guise of ‘research’ is unethical. That is why Congress should stand firm against President Obama’s scheme to undermine a fundamental constitutional right.”

    Rest assured, Congress will stand firm and continue to misread that “fundamental constitutional right.” And more grieving families will be doomed to voice their despair. In the words of Richard Martinez, whose son was killed Friday by the avenging alpha male, “Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’ right to live?”

    Yeah. What about that?


    Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1


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