Sharing The Moral Responsibilty: “After all, it was you and me”

Another violent tragedy. Another massacre, now the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.

It’s 8:06 on Saturday evening. I’m on the website for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. On the right side of the page is a ticker that reads,

People Shot in America This Year: 54, 788.

Shot So Far Today: 248.

In the aftermath of the Aurora movie theatre massacre, we question how many more of these events we will have to endure. We wonder what is wrong with our country. We look for someone to blame.

Obviously, the shooter is first. The nation’s gun lobby is an easy second target, as they continue to spread the odious lie that the Obama Administration wants to take their guns away. Adam Gopnik, in the New Yorker, writes, “Those who fight for the right of every madman and every criminal to have as many people-killing weapons as they want share moral responsibility for what happened . . .”

A writer for the San Francisco Chronicle wants to blame our leaders: “Until our leaders find the courage to do what’s right, the massacres will keep happening. And that is the most senseless tragedy of all.”

Others blame President Obama in particular for sidestepping the gun control issue, for signing into law more repeals of good gun laws than Bush, for knocking down rules that kept loaded guns out of our national parks, for dismantling policies that kept trains safe from armed terrorist attacks.

It’s 8:15 PM. 250 people have been shot in America today.

But, who is really to blame? The answer is you and I. We, the people of the United States. There are many citizens who are too lazy to actually study the Second Amendment and learn what it really means. Too many citizens are uninterested the facts behind the specious claims of the NRA. Those of us who support gun control have been content to sit back, expecting our leaders to do something. Then, disappointed, because the sad truth is our leaders don’t lead anymore, we have lacked the will to hold them accountable.

This is our country, and we are to blame for this madness because so many of us, myself included, have failed as citizens to fully participate in our democracy. We all share the moral responsibility.

It’s 8:27 PM. 252 people have been shot in America today.

I shouted out, who killed the Kennedys?
When after all it was you and me

Sympathy for the Devil, The Rolling Stones

I don’t have the solution. Maybe we need an Occupy Guns movement. All I know it that it is too easy for people who shouldn’t have guns to get them. All I know is that we need to take responsibility for the gun problem ourselves. We can’t allow massacres like this to keep happening. It is time to stop blaming and stop expecting others to do the work. We need to take action.

It’s 8:52 PM. 258 people have been shot in America today.

In the time it has taken me to write this and post it as a draft, 10 people in this country have been shot by a gun.

Ever see a face in the crowd?
Ever hear the sound of the tears rollin’ down?
But, it’s all right, tonight
While we’re cuddled up tight.
In the name of victory,
It’s a shame that you and me
Can’t stop them guns.

Guns, Flo and Eddie



5 thoughts on “Sharing The Moral Responsibilty: “After all, it was you and me”

  1. This is awful – I heard about it on the radio yesterday. I know for a fact, plain and simple, that if our gun laws were as open as they are in the US, we would have a lot more gun crime. Sure, people can get a gun if they want to, even illegally, but it’s the large fuzzy area in the ven diagram that makes guns more freely available to people who are, shall we say, prone to this kind of behaviour. A tragedy in the dictionary sense of the word.

    1. I agree. One of the arguments made against gun control is that if your restrict access you would just drive folks to the black market. While that may be true, it would still make guns harder to get and some might be dissuaded from going that route. I think that on some level, the fact that guns are legal makes some deranged folks think it is okay to use them any way they wish.

  2. I am ambivalent about the idea of collective guilt. It too easily gets applied to individuals. I understood that thing of Hannah Arendt’s about the banality of evil, and that Eichmann “just following orders” was as guilty as the people working the ovens… but then there was Ward Churchill’s post-9/11 essay describing the people who died in the WTC as “little Eichmanns,” the logic of which I followed even though I couldn’t accept his conclusion as applied to the individual humans who died. Where that leaves me with the real Eichmann I have no idea.

    My wife and I went to Denver Thursday evening for the 12:01 a.m. premiere of the film. Had our theater of choice been sold out, we might have been in Theater Nine in Aurora just in time for the massacre. I will not accept any survivor guilt for that, and I don’t accept individual responsibility for the attack.

    Our society has come to accept mass murder as the price we pay for living in a free country. I haven’t. I think anger is a more powerful motivator than guilt. Trouble is we have cranked up the level of artificially induced outrage to such a point that something genuinely outrageous just sails past us. Maybe this will be the signal moment for some kind of change, but I doubt it.

    1. Thanks, Ray. Appreciate your comment very much.

      Flo & Eddie (being Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman of The Turtles) are long but not forgotten favorites. “Guns” is a great little tune from their “Moving Targets” LP.

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