This Rash of Shootings Is Giving Me a Rash


Rash shootings are like daily American lives

The hot new accessory for fall is an assault rifle, but it doesn’t go well with solids, stripes or plaids, so don’t even think of trying to make it work for you. It’s the worst trend since double-breasted suits — and it’s everywhere. Let’s recap some of the recent horrors that have resulted in actions by real cops, not just the fashion police.

Just yesterday, the Westfield Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus, N.J., became the site of a weird gunman shooting bullets while allegedly armed in full-body armor and a helmet. Talk about a terrible outfit! More seriously, it’s so sad when a disturbed freak can have such easy access to a weapon that he can terrorize innocent shoppers with it (though he mercifully didn’t injure anyone. In fact, he ended up killing himself!). The economy’s hurting badly enough without potentially deadly interruptions like mad riflemen getting up in consumers’ faces while they examine the merch. And that merch should never include an AK-47, by the way. If we had the gun control so many conservatives vehemently oppose, loose kegs would be way less able to act on their darker impulses. Is that so life-threateningly painful to admit?


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And this was hardly an isolated incident. It happened only three days after the LAX airport shooting, which caused a lot more pandemonium and distress than just delayed flights. The alleged shooter, Paul Ciancia, reportedly went to LAX with the intention of instilling primal fear in Transportation Security Administration officers, as if acting out the plot of an action film that mercifully never got greenlit. He managed to do so by killing one such officer and shooting several other people, making terrified observers realize that it’s not just in the air that you need to worry about these days. Ciancia happens to fit all the stereotypical signposts for a gun-toting psycho. The 23-year-old student was quiet and kept to himself; he’d suffered a loss (his mother died); he was facing a potentially bleak future (working in dad’s auto repair shop); and he’d been expressing virulent rage against the federal government. What’s more, he’d gone through the traumatizing experience of an all-boys Roman Catholic school, in New Jersey — the site of the mall maniac! But the key thing is that he had a gun and lots and lots of bullets. Much as I don’t care for LA, this never should have happened.

An extra eerie twist on all this gun-toting mania is that young people can be the victims of it too. On Oct. 22, a 13-year-old boy named Andy Lopez was shot and killed by a police officer in Santa Rosa, Calif., strictly because of a misread signifier. Andy was on his way to a friend’s house, where he was going to return a B.B gun — you know, a plastic toy. Becoming concerned, sheriff’s deputy Erick Gelhaus thought it was a real gun, so in true George Zimmerman style, he decided to shoot Andy when the kid swiveled around. He killed him! Andy’s parents are suing Sonoma County, which is good, though I’m left with some burning questions: (A) Why do so many police officers just assume? (B) Why do fake guns look so much like the real thing that they might easily be mistaken for it? (C) Why is it so easy to get a real one? It seems as if millions of paranoid-schizos can nab a deadly weapon as effortlessly as they can order Snoopy pillows from Amazon.


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California Senator Dianne Feinstein (a Democrat) says she’d like to propose a bill that would make assault weapons off limits to the general public, but she’s aware that the gun owners and aficionados have a “hammerlock” on Congress. And the hammerlocks of gun owners and aficionados tend to be really tight, as you can imagine. Her efforts are not helped by the right-wing media, which are adding insult to injury by saying these incidents have nothing whatsoever to do with gun control; they’re just about isolated bad behavior. Well, if wackos weren’t able to get a gun, they’d just have to shoot spitballs at people, and we’d all still make our flights. Got it, dummies! Ugh. It’s enough to make you … think. Anyway, dress sensibly — and safely, people. Guns will never be the new Prada handbag.

[ Photo by Flickr user andrewbain ]

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