PeaceVoice: Kids just collateral damage for nation's gun rights crowd

A Texas gun enthusiast, 39-year-old Francisco Oropeza, was firing off his AR-15 in his yard Friday night about 40 miles from Houston. He was known to be touchy, so, despite the noise and danger, no one approached him.

Finally, after 11 p.m., his neighbor did. He said something like, “Hey, man, can you not do that? We’ve got an infant in here trying to sleep.”

So, in America, what does a righteous gun owner do when his rights, his dignity and his command over his own property are threatened by such outrageous demands?

Of course. Mr. Oropeza marches to the offending neighbor’s home and bravely stands up for his Second Amendment rights.

He shoots most of the family members dead — five of them, including an 8-year-old.

Two smaller children are saved by their mothers, using their bodies as shields. That, of course, was an extra affront to the intrepid rifle owner, so he shot both women dead.

So it goes. There’s nothing to be done in our fair land.

In Texas, it’s particularly sensitive. That’s where Donald Trump did his kick-off rally to honor those who tried to overthrow the US government after he lost the election.

Naturally, Trump staged the kickoff in Waco on the 30th anniversary of an ill-conceived ATF raid there that claimed the lives of members of rightwing religious cult, the Branch Davidians. Later, of course, a rightwing militiaman bombed the federal office building in Oklahoma City on a Waco anniversary.

Trump played on all this, both with his speech and with imagery on a big screen behind him.

At least one preacher believes Trump has been anointed by God, terming him “the battering ram that God is using to bring down the Deep State of Babylon.” Alllllrighty, then.

Trump repeated much of the same message at the recent National Rifle Association convention, telling a gun rights crowd, “I am your warrior. I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution.”

Yeah, you da man, Trump. I’m betting Mr. Oropeza heard you loud and clear.

The same goes for Ettore Lacchei of Antioch, Illinois, who approached his neighbor about engaging in some afternoon leaf-blowing in his own yard on April 12. Mr. Lacchei didn’t get the neighbor to immediately stop, so naturally assumed control of the situation by fatally shooting his neighbor in the head.

Most of us, of course, have heard of young Ralph Yarl, a 16-year-old Black kid who was supposed to go to a Kansas City, Missouri, house he didn’t know to pick up his younger brothers. He knocked on the door, but he was at the wrong house.

Andrew Lester, an elderly white man who had become increasingly devoted to Trump, according to his grandson, didn’t risk opening the door to this skinny kid. He courageously shot the boy in the head right through the glass, then shot him again in the arm as he lay bleeding on the porch.

Lester said he afraid due to “the size of the male,” whom he characterized as “around six feet tall.” In fact, the boy on his porch stood 5-8 and weighed 140.

The Gun Violence Archive, which takes note of shootings that happen but no one died, said a group of teens from Jasper, Texas, have established the mark to beat at 11, set at a party where 11 victims all survived gunshot wounds.

Guns, alcohol, and teens. What could possibly go wrong?

Should we assume the shooter was highly trained and only meant to wound the partygoers?

What happens, politically, when these routine mass shootings, often staged by MAGA followers and always by NRA faithful, are considered by our illustrious elected officials?

We are told most frequently that, in the wake of such tragedy, now is not the appropriate time to talk of change; it’s time for thoughts and prayers.

Of course, there is no let-up to these killings committed by the Proud Boys who defend unlimited gun rights, so I suppose we just deal with an ongoing tsunami of thoughts and prayers and perpetually postpone actual change.

Sometimes some pesky mothers and others do the legwork to get new gun laws passed, as they did here in Oregon. But as always, the alert lawyers from the NRA and its support groups come to the rescue and get them overturned.

Apparently, we have a Second Amendment that protects access to combat weaponry. Lock and load.

America: The nation where all attempts to curb access to guns are shot down. Should we raise a glass to that?

Perhaps we should start calling the children who are murdered by the term we use for war casualties — collateral damage. If it’s good enough for Vietnamese children, Afghan children and Iraqi children, it’s good enough for our children, right?

Tom Hasting serves as coordinator of the conflict resolution program at Portland State University. His work is distributed through PeaceVoice, where he serves as senior editor.


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