The media has supported an outpouring of grief and anguish for the victims of the Aurora, Colorado massacre at the midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” (Several Mama Phd columns discuss it.) The tragedy makes obvious the ease with which deadly assault weapons are procured, but the political response has been dull to nonexistent. A few bright spots exist--the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence created a web petition to “tell President Obama and Gov. Romney” that “We Are Better Than This.” I appreciate another Brady petition that demands Congress “Stop Arming Dangerous People”—individuals who are “dangerously mentally ill,” “domestic abusers” or “convicted felons.” I digitally signed both petitions.
I understand that the U.S. is past the point of no return on access to weapons. As a meat eater from the South, I support sustainable hunting and farming practices, which include access to guns. I admit to having mixed feelings about whether someone who has been verbally threatened with potential gun violence should arm themselves in defense. Recently, a department chair friend of mine and several of her faculty received death threats from an Iraq war veteran (in need of PTSD help) who was unhappy with his classroom experiences. It took her months to get a restraining order against him. Should she have armed herself in order to not feel like a sitting duck during her office hours? Particularly after trying to get university and police support? As Catwoman says to Batman in a much quoted statement from the film, “About that whole no guns thing...Turns out I'm not as committed to it as you are.”
The Mom blogosphere has been active with responses to the Batman tragedy. How many mothers like myself allowed their teenagers to go off alone to a similar midnight screening of the film? Girls Gone Child’s Rebecca Woolf has written about gun control and the Batman massacre in recent columns. In "Annie Drop Your Gun" Woolf describes her husband’s carjacking in L.A. as well as the death of three friends by gunshot. Woolf wonders whether her husband would have lived if he had been tempted to pull out his own gun. Two of her friends died as a result of accidents with guns. One died from suicide. Woolf knows from experience—access to weapons makes you more likely to die from them.
The weak response from our government and the Romney camp on more rigorous background checks for weapons ownership or better access to mental health care makes it obvious that both Republicans and Democrats will wait for this issue to be forgotten, rather than face the vociferous NRA gun lobby. When our teenagers are staring down the barrels of semiautomatic assault rifles, instead of at screens, I'm not sure that we can afford to wait on this one any longer.
I plan to be in Tampa for the Republican National Convention this year and will join the “Coalition to March on the RNC” protest on Aug. 27th. I’ll be the person with the sign that says “Catwoman was Wrong About the Whole Gun Thing.”