On December 13, 2013, Colorado hosted yet another unspeakable act — the invasion of Arapahoe High School by one of its own students, armed with a shotgun, a machete, and three incendiary devices, who shot and gravely injured a fellow student, detonated one of the devices, and killed himself.
It is difficult not to get emotional and demand immediate political action. But I am a pragmatist who believes that repeal of the Second Amendment or the perpetration of a similarly unspeakable act at a meeting of the NRA Board of Directors are not yet realistic goals and might, in one instance at least, be illegal.
Rather, we should treat gun violence for what it really is, and with that new perspective, persuade the influential and powerful of the stark threat this cancer poses to their — our — vital interests. Only by coolly and methodically mobilizing these forces will we be able to CONSIGN THE NRA FUCKERS AND THEIR FUCKING BULLY-BOY LACKEYS TO ETERNAL FUCKING PERDITION.
In short, we need to recognize that this most recent attack, like its home-grown forebears — Columbine, Platte Canyon, Deer Creek, Aurora — is terrorism. None was politically motivated, but all will affect the way we think and behave, much as if an al-Qaeda suicide bomber, with malign political intent, had been the perpetrator:
— They will undermine our confidence in the safety of our schools, our theaters, and ultimately, a range of public institutions and venues;
— They will shake our confidence that it can’t happen to us.
We are resilient. Our children will return to school. We will go to the movies, walk and bike our streets and paths, play in public parks. But we are not fools. Which of us will not wonder whether our kids might be safer, educated at home? Which of us will not ask whether Netflix is a better option than the Cineplex?
And the odds are that it will happen again, here. Columbine is a powerful and disturbing symbol to those who need to exorcise their personal demons with weapons. Columbine’s successors make our state all the more vulnerable. Each instance creates its own evil offspring.
If people’s attitudes and behaviors begin to change, will our schools and our other public institutions be able to withstand this erosion of confidence? What will be the economic consequences for the private sector? For stores and offices that rely on the public’s feeling of security? For businesses thinking of relocating here, skiers longing for deep powder, PhD’s eager to join our hi-tech enterprises? Will the Red Wings, the Mets, the Patriots, the Bulls refuse to play in the Mecca of Murder?
Forcing local pocketbooks and home-grown pride to acknowledge that we are in a slow-motion 9/11, symbolized by baseball caps rather than turbans, might shift the political balance in favor of meaningful action. Otherwise, with the prospect of becoming the new Mississippi in the race to the bottom, we may be in the position of the Russian farmer who, given one wish by the genie, asks that his neighbor’s cow should die.