Emanuel AME shooting: This is now the world we live in

The high price of vigilance

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So here we are again. Except this time the tragedy isn't in Colorado. It isn't in Connecticut. It's isn't in California. It's right here in Charleston, S.C., and I dare say this is the new norm. This is the natural outgrowth of a nation that was conceived at the barrel of a gun and the threat of the lash and which has been suffering for so long from a singularly American affliction, an affliction that has no other name but paranoia.

And it's this paranoia that has poisoned America's gun culture and now our nation itself.

SAM SPENCE
  • Sam Spence
Too many of us, and for far too long, have lived under a particular delusion that views their neighbors as would-be thieves and rapists, their fellow Americans as a sinister cabal of fifth columnists, and their government as the very dominion of the Antichrist. And the only way to protect ourselves is to be constantly vigilant and to take up arms, because some day we will need them.

Who knows when and where that time and place will be. It could be in the classroom. It could be in the home. It could even be in a church. Nowhere is safe.

Now, sadly, that affliction has come to affect us all, as paranoid prophecies have become reality and reality has become a living hell. 

And that's exactly the kind of world we live in now that we as a society have decided that no place is safe from the threat of guns.

Some will tell you that last night's tragedy could have been averted if only the Rev. Clementa Pinckney and his flock had been armed. But I ask, is that the world we want to live in, where even the holiest of places is sullied by the prospective stench of gun power? I think not.

And yet, we cannot reasonably expect to live in a world where this isn't the case. There are too many guns, too many people with guns, and far too many of them living in a fantasy world where their very virility comes from the weapons in their hands. The same madness that afflicts the would-be gangsta afflicts the trigger-happy cop, the conspiracy theory survivalist and the frightened homeowner, the video game loner and the abusive husband.

Sadly, there appears to be little that we can do. Any meaningful gun control measures are not only politically impossible, they're impossible in any practical sense. The explosion of gun production over the last few decades cannot be undone, and with the dawn of 3D printers and homemade plastic guns, it wouldn't matter anyway. The problems of the Second Amendment have now become the troubles of the First. Guns will be with us always.

So here we are again. Except this time the tragedy is at home.

Tomorrow it will be somewhere else. You can be sure of that.


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