It’s difficult to write about violence after yet another school shooting; I’d hate to contribute to the sense of mindless obsession that surrounds these things, especially on television. The news channels haven’t been able to talk about anything else, even when there’s little to say; they design graphics and even theme songs around every incident, fighting over ratings and advertisers. It’s all predictable and mostly empty and sad.

At some point in the ritual, sooner rather than later this time, perhaps because very young children are involved, the journalists turn their attention to the debate over gun control. We do need some sensible regulations over guns, of course, especially cheap handguns and automatic (and semi-automatic) rifles, even if we also know that anyone set on mass violence will probably find a way to find a gun and ammunition. We make it too easy.

The culture of guns runs from the posturing of the NRA to the families who keep small armories at home, certain that they are safer against some poorly defined threat. It doesn’t stop there. The same “moneyed interests” who have made sensible gun regulation impossible (and try to destroy unions and privatize schools and…) stand in the way of a comprehensive national health care system with full parity for mental health. We need to connect the dots.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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