Remember cigarettes? In the late 60’s 4 out of 5 doctors recommended Camel cigarettes. Everybody smoked, even 18 years ago when I started teaching in this classroom we would allow students to head out to the girls softball field for an 11:00 smoke break. If we didn’t many students wouldn’t come to school, at least that was the theory.

 

18 years later the message that cigarettes make you poor and kill you has finally sunk in. It is rare that I smell that familiar old tobacco reek that I grew up with (RIP Wilma Williams, lung cancer 2010). America realized that Big Tobacco was not their friend that they were sacrificing too much for a little nicotine jolt that was not worth the cost.

 

We embrace things that kill us because we think the cost is worth it then one day we start moving in another direction and realize, “Wow, what were we thinking”?

 

What will it take to get us there with guns?

 

Have we gotten as cynical about the problem as The Onion where they have been running the same story every time a shooting happens, changing only the location and date.

 

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX—In the hours following a violent rampage in Texas in which a lone attacker killed 27 individuals and seriously injured several others, citizens living in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs reportedly concluded Sunday that there was no way to prevent the massacre from taking place. “This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them,” said Kansas resident Britt Mulvanos, echoing sentiments expressed by tens of millions of individuals who reside in a nation where over half of the world’s deadliest mass shootings have occurred in the past 50 years and whose citizens are 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of other developed nations. “It’s a shame, but what can we do? There really wasn’t anything that was going to keep this individual from snapping and killing a lot of people if that’s what they really wanted.” At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past eight years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”

It would be really funny if it weren’t so sad.

America has Gunbrain; we have bought the idea of peace through superior firepower, that if only everyone was strapped, there wouldn’t be a problem. I don’t need to get into details or statistics, just know that an AK-47 or AR-15 can be bought right now, only a simple Google search away.

And how do we get rid of 357 million guns? Really good question and like all good questions there is no single easy answer. The easy beginning is to stop manufacturing guns whose sole purpose is to kill people. Nobody hunts with an AK or a Glock. Making them illegal and reducing their numbers through gun buyback programs does two very important things.

First, it sends a message to the gun lobbies that we are ready to act to move toward disarmament. It’s the first line in the sand, we are not helpless, we are tired of this shit and we are going to move to clean it up.

Second, it puts the crazies on notice. Are you adamant to keep your stockpile of guns because you believe that the government cannot protect you and soon The Purge will actually happen? Bad news koo-koo, 357 million guns for 326 million people in America means The Purge could happen anytime, anywhere.

I wish cigarettes were like guns in that those who died from cigarettes chose to purchase and smoke them. Guns don’t work that way; they are equal opportunity killers, infants, children, democrats, republicans 13,500 in 2015, 15,000 in 2016, and guess which direction the results will be for 2017?

And so we wait, for the next Columbine or Sandy Hook or Vegas shooting. Things calm down, politicians who prioritize profits over people breathe a little easier and The Onion prepares to fill in another location and date.