What I Learned This Week
It’s been a long week. On Thursday night we hosted a screening of Living for 32, a documentary about Colin Goddard, who survived the shooting at Virginia Tech. You’ve probably seen Colin on television. He’s the one who had Anderson Cooper all a-titter. Yes, he’s very good looking. The film tells the story of his reaction to the shooting, and his subsequent work with the Brady campaign. In the documentary he goes to a gun show, where you see people walking around with assault rifles on their backs and signs which say $475. He buys several guns with no official paperwork, not even a drivers license. In fact he shows the seller a “paper license” he made on his computer. The seller says no problem, and he walks out with the guns. What’s shocking is that nobody broke any laws. I think that most people in America have no idea that this goes on. It illustrates what a complete travesty our gun laws are. When I adopted my puppy I had to give two character references, which were checked, have a home visit from the shelter, and only then could I bring home my puppy who had been found abandoned on the side of a road in Tennessee. There is a more extensive background check required for a puppy that nobody wanted than for an assault weapon. In my mind, the main task at hand is to let as many people know about this gun show business as possible. Before I got involved with this movement I assumed that mentally ill people were screened, or had their names in a data base, or at least that something was being done to keep dangerous people from having guns. But there’s not. In fact, the background check to see if you are mentally ill consists of you answering one question. Have you been hospitalized for mental illness in the past year? And it’s an honor system. I don’t think most people know that, and if they did, they wouldn’t like it any more than I do. Honestly I can’t understand why ANYONE would be okay with that. Unless you are one of the aforementioned people and you want guns and can’t pass that simple test. Pathologically honest psychopaths maybe?
The screening went well, and more people were made aware of what has been going on, which is the point. There were a few NRA guys who showed up early, but they didn’t say anything. You can’t really argue with plain fact. It’s really easy to buy guns in America, no matter who you are, or what your intent.
If you didn’t read the article in The New Yorker, What if the Tsarnaevs Had Been the “Boston Shooters” pause here and do so. But come right back! The point is that those guys could have easily bought guns and done a lot more damage with less effort. Even if they were Chechen rebels, or escaped prisoners, or members of Al-Qaeda, they could have just waltzed into a hotel ballroom where a gun show was going on and armed themselves with whatever they needed to wage their jihad. Likewise a man convicted of stalking can buy guns. Or a depressed housewife. The door is wide open. No questions asked. Cash and carry.
I learned that even though the number of people advocating for background checks on all gun sales is enormous, it’s growing. Local moms, dads, shop owners, gun owners, carpenters, everyday guys and gals went into that screening, and a whole bunch of activists came out.
Also I learned that if you’re at home one day and decide to make a video of yourself calling senators, fix your hair first because you never know who is going to see it.
Here’s the trailer for Living for 32. It’s on Netflix, so you can watch it at home.