The gun really is a wretched piece of technology. Does that sound heretical? Allow me to explain. Human beings are quite temperamental creatures — we can go from ecstatic to desperate, from calm to rageful in a matter of seconds. Things as simple as a lack of food or sleep or an excess of alcohol or caffeine can deliver us into vulnerable and unpredictable states. Yet firearms deliver instantaneous death with a twitch of the finger. This is a fundamental mismatch of technology and subject.
Consider that in order not to become emotionally unbalanced, humans require highly sophisticated cultures based in ancient traditions of wisdom. Lamentably, the USA of 2022 is about as distant from such a state of affairs as one could imagine. Allowing people who live in such a system — one whose social bonds are hanging by the thinnest of threads — to own portable machine guns is bafflingly stupid. Given this mismatch between technology and subject, the mass shootings that are occurring weekly in the US are predictable in all but the specific details of victims and geography.
Indeed, the focus of the system into which we were born is declared in its name, capitalism. What is considered of prime importance and attention in this socioeconomic order is: capital — not people, not other living beings. Not the future, not the past, not the present. Not your ancestors, not your children. Not joy, not health, not love. Not the earth, not air, not water. Not the gods and not the goddesses. Just capital. Cool, distant, abstract: capital. Theoretically it works. Theoretically, everybody, “pursues their own happiness.” Theoretically.
In reality, if you adjust human behavior to accommodate capital above all else, what results is: Uvalde, Buffalo, Austin, Kenosha, Indianapolis, Boulder, Miami, Muskogee. Predictably, people break down within this system. Health care is a for-profit industry, so getting mental health care can be a struggle. Yet, remarkably, virtually anyone can buy a portable machine gun.
Buffalo, Uvalde, Austin, Kenosha, Indianapolis, Miami, Muskogee. Our cities are named after peoples who were “ethnically cleansed” out of their homelands to make way for capital. Or after generals. Or after animals driven to the brink of extinction by capital. Politicians in the US are reacting to the problem of mass shootings in the way they react to all chronic problems — with rhetoric and prevarication. If you have ever been close to somebody with an addiction, their behavior is very familiar. The illness must be accommodated — not the body and not the soul. Well, people in this country and around the world are sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. We long for love, kindness, community and a complete rejection of the miserabilism that a life spent serving capital requires.