Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Just Another Day in America
by Pa Rock
It was February of 1973, a little more than forty years ago, when my wife at the time and I spent a week in Tokyo and Hiroshima, Japan. She was pregnant, and we were both from rural backgrounds, yet neither of us thought anything about roaming the streets of Tokyo in the evenings. Tokyo at that time was a bigger city than New York City. We felt perfectly safe because crime was almost non-existent in Japan – something that the Big Apple definitely could not claim. Police were rare in Tokyo, and the ones who were out patrolling the streets did not carry guns. It was a different world than the one we had left behind in America.
Today Japan is still relatively crime free, at least when compared to the United States, and guns are still a rarity in Japan. The focus there is on family honor and personal responsibility. The focus here is on amassing insane amounts of weaponry for “self-protection” – often described in a paranoid manner as protection from government.
Since returning from my second stint in Japan in the summer of 2012, barely a year ago, there have been thirteen mass shootings in our country. Within a week of my return, James Holmes opened fire in a crowded movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado, killing twelve and wounding fifty-eight. James Holmes stood on the stage in front of the movie screen and sprayed the audience relentlessly with automatic weapon fire.
Two weeks later, on the fifth day of August, a white supremacist opened fire in a Sikh Mosque in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and managed to kill six people before taking his own life. Nine days after that a shooter killed three individuals including a police officer at Texas A&M University.
In September of 2012, there was a workplace shooting in Minneapolis in which five people were killed and three wounded before the shooter killed himself. Less than a month after that, there was a domestic incident at a spa in Wisconsin in which the shooter killed three including his wife. He then turned his gun on himself.
There was shooting at a shopping mall in Portland, Oregon, on December 11th, 2012, where a man shot two strangers and then killed himself. That occurred during the Christmas shopping season.
On December 14th, 2012, one of the most heinous crimes in the history of the United States occurred when 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother while she was sleeping, and then took her guns to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where he killed twenty young children and six school personnel in cold blood before taking his own life. His monstrous crime brought angry calls for restrictions on gun ownership and the ready availability of automatic weapons with large clips, but the public furor soon dissipated.
A gunman in Herkimer County, New York, killed four individuals and wounded two before killing himself on March 13th, 2013. On April 21st, a shooter in Federal Way, Washington, killed his girlfriend and three neighbors before police shot and killed him. Three days later a shooter in Manchester, Illinois, killed five people in a public housing complex before being killed by police.
There was a family shooting that spread beyond the family in Santa Monica, California, on June 7th, 2013. Six people died in that tragedy including the shooter. On July 6th a man in Hialeah, Florida, killed six of his neighbors before setting fire to his apartment house. He was shot and killed by the police.
And then yesterday thirteen people, including the shooter, were shot and killed at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC, a government facility thought to be relatively safe. The NRA will bray on about Constitutional rights, the need to own guns for self-protection, and boys will be boys – but when all is said and done, yesterday was just another day in America.
The fact that we, as a nation, continue to tolerate this lunacy defies belief. With every gun that makes its way into society, we become a little less free. We are being held hostage to the delusions of the truly paranoid – and it’s well past time for the madness to end!
There is much we can learn from Japan and the rest of the world.