Tagged: gun control

Dennis O’Neil: Guns?

Six Gun HeroesSometimes I ask myself whacky questions. Like, do rhino teeth get filled? Are we just computer constructs inn some alien game and if so are there rules and how can I get a copy of them? Who cleaned up after Hannibal’s elephants? How did Noah keep all those animals in the ark from eating each other?

There’s been a lot of bangedy bang in the news lately and so what else is new and the answer is nothing, but this prompts another whacky question: why can’t somebody do something about the gun problem? Nothing draconian: despite the irresponsible claims of some political types, Mr. Obama doesn’t want to take your firearms away. If that was on the agenda, you’d think that the presidential minions would have at least begun the effort by now. Dude’s been in office more than seven years and so far he hasn’t confiscated so much as a cap pistol.

Making an effort to forbid guns to known criminals or mental patients would be a possible opener. So would a national registry of folks who want to buy guns. In other words, let’s clamp down on the gunnies as fiercely and mercilessly as we clamp down on those young snots who want drivers’ licenses!

But wait! Enough of this: we’re not in polemic mode today. What we are in is question asking mode – whacky questions – and so here’s another: if there were no firearms, if that ninth century Chinese alchemist had misplaced the recipe and hadn’t bothered to look for it, what kind of action stories would we be writing? I’m pretty sure that at least some of our stories would be of the action variety because that kind of stuff is packaged with our genes. I’m sorry, but a liking for action – oh, all right, a liking for violence – is part of our survival kit. Our mythologies are, from the very earliest recorded history until now, full of warfare and combat and those tales are the offspring of the impulses that gave our ancestors the gumption to lift weapons and protect the family and the tribe.

Gilgamesh, meet James Bond.

Occasionally, I’ve allowed myself to wonder if I could create a hero, a rip-snortin’ justice bringer (possibly wearing a costume) whose adventures did not include dealing with guns. As a science fiction or fantasy piece, sure, easy, no problem. But a story set in our time and world, or a close facsimile of our world – not so easy. Guns are all over the place, wielded by bad guys and good guys alike. What would our world be without them? Has the centrality of guns in our national narratives taught us that gunfire is what solves problems? No need to look any further than the nearest Glock, to deal with it, whatever it is, this time.

Oh yeah, did I mention that another shooting made the news today?

Marc Alan Fishman: Iron Batman v. Super Captain America

superman-ironman

In the not too distant future we’ll be privy to both Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Overly Long Titles and Captain America: Civility and Zombies. Seemingly, both will deal with complimentary issues pertaining to the culpability of collateral damage surrounding the super-inhabited world. In lesser terms, it’s pretty clear when you level a city (or level half of one, and almost use another as a projectile) someone has to pay. And no, I don’t mean asking Tony or Bruce-Bruce for a spare billion to cover the insurance.

At the core of both movies – and yes, I’m speculating – we’re dealing with the balance of proactive protection versus reactive process improvement. Regulating and regularly checking the populace for gifts is certainly one way to do it. It’s no different, one might postulate, than registering a weapon they own. Iron Man’s stance, as is Mr. Wayne’s, is cemented in fear of the unknown. How are we to protect the ones we love when the man down the street could be a psychopath with a gun or just Mr. Psycho? Forcing the population to divulge their hidden talents by way of polite force might be one way to hedge your bets. Because you don’t know when someone might grow up to be Speedball.

That being said, does creating such a registry or law become a civil liberty issue? In the comics, it’s the basis for Cap’s catharsis. Cry freedom, Mr. Rogers. And to Superman’s point: holding him in check when there’s literally nothing on Earth that can do that is just a waste of resources. The best you can do is trust that Big Blue will keep us safe. Being proactive effectively allows for the proliferation of some unforeseeable doomsday device built to destroy a hero gone wild. And if you build it? Well, it’s inviting someone to fire it – whether Kal-El is cuckoo or not. Better, I suppose, if you make plans to build it after the first building accidentally collapses due to super-fighting? I guess I’m unsure.

The topic is very real when we live in a nation that needs an executive order to help suppress out-of-control gun violence. Could you imagine the field day Fox News would have if New York was actually attacked by invading aliens? I can here the subsequent call of candidate Donald Trump to first “build a wall between dimensions… and make the Chitauri pay for it.” and then “…ban all super powered people from being in our country until we figure it all out”. If not Trump, perhaps a war mongering Chris “The Blob” Christy, Ted “Bomb Them Till They Glow Like Dr. Light” Cruz, or Dr. Ben “Sleepwalker” Carson would chime in with a retort that the destruction of Metropolis occurred not because newly freed political prisoners from the Phantom Zone were exacting revenge for their lost world… but because President Obama didn’t allow the NSA access to General Zod’s Facebook. But I digress.

The truth of the matter is that there’s no right answer. Batman and Iron Man have every right to want to be as informed as possible about the dangers of the world. They are tinkerers and toy-makers of the highest degree. A problem is built to be dismantled, and put back together better; be it your shrapnel-filled heart, or the world at large. So too though is Captain America and Superman’s right to say that our country was built on the ideology of freedom. That a man is innocent until proven guilty. For as much damage that befell Sokovia or Metropolis, there is no blame to be had towards those who tried to protect it. Ultron and Zod pulled the triggers. The heroes merely jumped in the line of fire. They couldn’t help the falling debris. The needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few. Wait, that was Star Trek!

So, whose side will you be on? For me, I’ll be on the side of being entertained. Because my bleeding liberal heart in the real world still longs for the day Scarlet Witch whispers “No more guns.”

Marc Alan Fishman The Right to Bear Arms

Ben-Carson

No, I didn’t spell that wrong. I just think all Americans should have the right to a free pair of bear arms. For protection. Or something. OK, I lied. I just like to be coy with my titles. But, as always, I digress.

A while back, in response to the “Religious Freedom and Restoration Act,” I’d likened the right-wing penned law as being worthy of super villainy. Now, I find myself once again questioning how the Grand Old Party has now become the party of Ultron, Lex Luthor, and Dr. Ben Carson.

Somewhere between Donald Trump desiring to build a wall to protect us from Mexican rapists, Carly Fiorina proclaiming Planned Parenthood as a secret fetus-selling black market, and Jeb Bush basically aping a parody of his own brother a la Aaron Sorkin (no, seriously), it’s sad that Dr. Carson’s recent verbal pile-ups haven’t awaken new ire in me, so much as deflated acceptance of the status quo. Forgive me for being political this week. But when Doctor Doom starts preaching at the pulpit, I find it near impossible to keep my pinko-commie lips shut. Blame my maker, Mike ‘Reed Richards’ Gold, esquire.

Dr. Carson, amongst several bouts of recent word vomit, has suggested in light of the continuous gun-related tragedies that our kindergarten teachers should be packing heat, and that the Holocaust could have been prevented had my ancestors been more like Frank Castle than Frank Zappa. Doctor Doom indeed.

Forgive me. Guns are bad, mm kay? Outside the sport (a term I use in the loosest of senses) of hunting, the need for a firearm just rubs my rhubarb. And for those folks who profess to the ideology that the ownership of a gun is their right, or that it’s paramount to their personal safety, I wholeheartedly believe no one has the right to take the life of another person. Period. And any instrument that is as potent as a modern firearm is simply way-too-easy means to ends no one should have the power to profess over another. But I know my place; my opinion is not law, nor should it be. Guns exist. They can’t unexist. So, we attempt to achieve balance.

Balance isn’t reached by arming the world with weapons. I cite Fiddler on the Roof:

“We should fight back! An eye for an eye… a tooth for a tooth!”

“Great. So the world should be blind and toothless, then?”

Dr. Ben Carson, and his conservative cohorts are playing a dangerous game. Fear-mongering. Hate-spreading. You know… Super-villainy. Put a gun in the hands of everyone, and we can live-out the end of Reservoir Dogs every time someone cuts us in line. That ought to cut down on the mass shootings, right Herre Viktor?

If we lived in the world of comic books, imagine how much worse it might be. If weapons discharged from people’s eyes, fingers, or anuses. If people could explode on demand. If violence was solved always with even more violence. If we believed Carson, the world of comic books would be the safest world possible.

And if that were true… Comic books would be a hell of a lot more boring.

Dennis O’Neil: Enough!

4EhFO

So riddle me this: how do we react to another massacre? And yet, given the events of last week in Oregon, what else is worth reacting to?

I guess I’m with Obama and Colbert. The president said we’ve become numb and that’s not a bad observation. Stephen Colbert said that we’ve gotten good at pretending. Something horrific happens, something that could have been prevented, and the clergy and politicians and pundits make their noise and in a news cycle or two, we’re pretending it never happened.

Common sense suggests strategies that deserve exploration. (Gun registration could be administered as driver’s licenses are administered.) Lies get told. (The prez is sending minions in black choppers to take away your guns. The Dems are drafting laws to make firearm ownership illegal. There aren’t enough guns because one for every man, woman and child in the country isn’t enough.) Facts are ignored. (Other first world nations don’t suffer from our epidemic of gun violence.)

Research has shown that most people don’t change their minds even after they admit that the facts are against them. So appealing to sweet reason, it seems, is futile.

What isn’t?

Dennis O’Neil: Rituals

Flag BannerOur hearts are going out and it was a terrible tragedy and we’ll remember those innocent victims in our prayers and maybe a politician or two will make propaganda out of it but that’s what politicians do and did I mention prayers and anyway we won’t be bothered about it for long and it’ll be forgotten until the next one…

There are reasons we have rituals. They help us bond as a community – whatever that community happens to be – and they offer us comfort when we encounter the horrifying. In the earliest of human civilizations, rituals had survival value, helping people  cooperate and giving them the courage we needed to slog through another day, and maybe the our rituals still have some of that value. But I think we’ve begun to adapt them to another use that may not be beneficial. We’re going through our motions so we feel we’ve done something and that relieves us of the obligation to do more, to act meaningfully.

Here in the United States, there have been over a dozen mass shootings in the last six years.

No other advanced nation has this problem.

I could go on, but I won’t.