I’m reminded of the thousands of unarmed people of color who were gunned down by law enforcement officers who irrationally feared for their lives. Law enforcement officers waited an hour before taking action against Tuesday’s gunman at Ulvalde Elementary School. They also feared for their lives. The common denominator is fear.
There was a rush to explain, understate and cover up this delay by officials who assembled to tell us what happened at Tuesday’s school shooting. But the bottom line is they were afraid. The police were afraid.
Of course they were. Brave talk is cheap, and guns create fear. No one without direct experience can predict with certainty how they will react when they are confronted by that fear.
I still remember what it was like when I lived in California In the 90s. Just going the speed limit in the slow lane of any freeway could occasionally piss people off. I still remember wondering on more than one occasion if the driver who pulled up next to me while passing was going to shoot at me for merely obeying the law.
Guns create fear, more guns create more fear. When the ban on assault rifles expired in 2004 more and more people got them and now more people are afraid. Body armour and virtually unlimited access to bullets are the accessories that make such assault rifles even more formidable and fearsome weapons. And because they exist, more and more people want them. More and more guns are justified in the service of home protection.
And on and on it goes. Americans are in an arms race against themselves. Like all arms races it will not end well. Arms races never do.
As I write this, somewhere in America there is a nine year old girl, a ten year old boy and a teacher who won’t see 2023. Because they will be murdered by someone with an AR-15. I’m not psychic or anything, I just know it’s true with a certain helpless, weary inevitability. I think you know it’s true as well. And law enforcement will be powerless to stop it because they, too, are afraid. And Senators will refuse to do anything about it because they are afraid of losing their millions of dollars worth of funding from the NRA.
And on and on it will go. People will actually say next time that nobody could predict it. But I just did. Right here in the pages of Palmer Report. I predicted it very specifically. And you and I know perfectly well that my grim prediction will almost certainly come true.
I have another prediction: next time it happens, Republicans will express sadness and refuse to do anything about it. Then it will happen again. In 2023, 2024, 2025, it will keep on happening. On and on and on. And thousands and thousands and thousands of people will die this way. And the vast, staggering majority of them will be Americans because it happens in America and virtually nowhere else.
I say “virtually” because it happened in Dunblane, Scotland in 1996, 420 miles from where I’m sitting right now. The reaction was swift. In response to the public debate, the Conservative government (you read that right) under Prime Minister John Major introduced the Firearms Act of 1997, which banned all cartridge ammunition handguns (with the exception of .22 calibre single-shot weapons) in England, Scotland and Wales. Later that same year the newly minted Labour government of Prime Minister Tony Blair introduced legislation banning the remaining .22 cartridge handguns as well. And that was the end of that. No more massacres.
But that won’t happen in the United States unless something changes. The government needs to find a way to get rid of the NRA and pass legislation that will outlaw these murder weapons once and for all. Meanwhile there needs to be a sweeping ban on assault weapons.
Will it happen? I doubt it. I see nothing suggesting that it will. Certainly there will be petitions and Congressional hearings, largely motivated by the parents of dead children. But nothing real is going to happen for as long as the Republican Party continues to exist and continues to hold sway.
I have said it before and I will say it again. The Republican Party no longer represents the interest of the American people. The Republican Party is a corrupt, anti-American terrorist organisation. The Republican Party must go. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.