Thursday, April 16, 2009

Are you surprised? Really? Come on, really?

...Binghamton, New York


...Wampum, Pennsylvania

That's this month. After the Virginia Tech shootings two years ago -- or Columbine ten years ago -- why does anyone express surprise at the horror of mass shootings or demonstrate shock when some poor 11-year old kid kills his soon-to-be step-mother? It is NOT the horror some people feel when they learn of these tragedies that knocks me for a loop -- Christ, these shootings damn well better horrify us. No, what knocks me out is that people actually seem genuinely surprised, shocked by these shootings. What does it say about me that I'm more surprised to learn there is town named Wampum than someone was shot there?

Shocked? Come on, really? What would shock me, what would surprise me, would be when there are no mass shootings for awhile, no stories of inner city kids getting shot inside their apartments during drug-deals-gone-bad, no kids killing their cousins while playing with dear old dad's loaded Glock 17.

Folks, shock should be reserved for shit that happens that doesn't happen all the time. Little green aliens, shock! Jesus among us again, shock! The Cubs win, the Cubs win...yep, shock. 14 people gunned down trying to learn English? Nope, it's just Friday.

If anyone bothers to read this post, I predict two kinds of responses. First, let's imagine the nice folks who have never been around guns or been victimized during a gun crime or just live in some happy suburban bubble. Those nice folks (...and I'm almost one of 'em) are gonna think I'm a bastard (cold hearted bastard, how could he not be shocked?), because they are darned shocked when they learned about some poor town half away across this country that gets ripped inside out when some quiet, shy neighbor goes loco and kills his ex-wife, her mom, her two kids, and the neighbor who came out on the porch when she heard the gunfire. These nice folks are gonna try to tell me they were shocked when they heard that the shooter's neighbors were shocked that the shooter went loco. Come on, you were NOT shocked. Look in the mirror. Fine, you were horrified, but shocked? Nah, you were horrified, turned off CNN, and took your kid to softball practice.

The second response group? Kind of a muddle, this one. An amalgam. I'll be nice and call them the Patriotic Brotherhood of the Second Amendment. The P.B.S.A. has an eclectic membership. Handful of legit hunters, some military guys (retired, active), toss in some angry white guys (...and I am one of those), couple of RNC members, Wayne LaPierre, and some underemployed 20-somethings; like I amalgam. Odd bedfellows. Whatever. Their response will be rather less monolithic. There might be a "enforce the guns laws" comment or two, perhaps a "right to bear arms" thought shared. Even money that one comment cryptically warns the Federal Government is a threat and we need the guns, and I kinda' expect I'll be called a pussy, although it will be misspelled P-U-S-Y. But all of those comments will miss the mark, friends. I'm not railing against guns, kids. I'm simply saying drop the shocked bit, would ya'?

With all of the guns kicking around, shit, people are gonna get SHOT. Duh. Are people shocked when there is a traffic accident? No. Hurt? Maybe. Scared, sure. Not shocked, though. With all of the millions of cars out there, we all half expect to get run over twice a week on the way to work. No surprise when it happens. But with millions of guns in millions of homes, we are going to keep being shocked when random people get shot by other random people? Stop it. You are not shocked. You might be faking it.

So, let's make a deal. Let's retire 'shock' and 'surprise' in this arena. It's unseemly. We come across as posers. Let's focus on being horrified. I think a lot of us are horrified. Maybe not horrified enough, but I think at least it's real feeling. My only real concern about horrified is that it will soon be meaningless, too.

You see, when my brother was shot and killed by a neighbor, I was 'shocked' and 'surprised' for awhile. I have spent a long time being 'horrified', and truth be told, it's starting to wear off. I think resigned is next.


  1. As you say, I expect that in this day and age of the availability of guns (and the current financial goings-on), we are going to see even more of these events.

    I fall under horrified as well. And saddened. So saddened.

  2. My parents hippies - my grandfather, proud member of the NRA...
    I have a perfect shot, but am terrified by guns.
    Shocked? No.
    With you on that one.


Please don't take me too seriously.