Usually, when we sit to pen our modest column, we are all giggles and light. But every once in a while we squat, quill in hand, and despair at the bleak landscape that looms before us. This is one of those times. Following the on-camera slaughter of WDBJ journalist Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward by unhinged individual Vester Flanagan, the thought of penning yet another column about gun violence feels both depressing and futile. And so, with scant regard for reading comprehension or narrative structure, we have decided to present random verbiage, in chronological order, culled from previous editions of the Odd Dominion:
Even for left-leaning liberal media pantywaists such as ourselves, one thing simply cannot be denied: Virginia is one gun-lovin’ commonwealth, no matter how you slice it. How do we know? Well, suffice it to say that, buried deep in our collective political subconscious, there are incidents of squirrel hunting, snapping turtle shooting and 12-point-buck dressing that loom so large, we can’t ever fully disavow our love for small-caliber weaponry. And if a state’s effete political columnists don’t reflexively hate guns, then who the hell does?
With the fourth anniversary of the mass shootings at Virginia Tech fast approaching, the last thing you might expect to see is some dude with a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle slung over his shoulder strolling through the halls of Virginia’s State Capitol building. But there he was.
Although the gun lobby scored some significant victories last year (most notably a law that allows patrons of alcohol-serving establishments to carry concealed weapons), it failed to overturn Virginia’s one-handgun-purchase-a-month law, and is surely champing at the bit to take another crack at it.
Even though a recent study showed that Virginia already provides more guns used in out-of-state crimes than all but two other states, the legislative momentum is toward allowing greater access to deadly weapons, not less. And because Virginia currently permits unlicensed gun show dealers to sell firearms without performing background checks, any law repealing the one-per-month limit should include a clause that officially changes the state motto to “America’s Gun Store.”
In the wake of the horrible slaughter of 20 terrified, defenseless children and seven adults in Newtown, Connecticut, we’re done pretending that America’s proponents of unfettered access to military hardware for all citizens are anything but accessories to mass murder. This fetishization of large-caliber, high-capacity weaponry is, in our humble opinion, an ongoing aberration in the American psyche, and one that basically guarantees that thousands of innocent souls will continue to be lost to mad men with easy access to the tools of death.
In a sane world, the stomach-churning mental image of a lunatic repeatedly firing .223-caliber bullets into the helpless, writhing bodies of children would make us finally stop, realize the folly of our current gun laws and take immediate corrective action.
But we do not live in a sane world. And, as much as it pains us to say it, nothing will really change. Twenty tiny coffins will be lowered into the ground, politicians will fulminate and fight, a scrap of watered-down, ineffective legislation may or may not pass, and we’ll all sit around, waiting for the next trigger-happy loner to destroy yet another community, as we continue to weep for the sick weakness of our collective will.
Odd Dominion is an unabashedly liberal, twice-monthly op-ed column covering Virginia politics.