Work of Art - Don’t mix killings with politics

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By Art Trujillo

A side effect of last week’s Newtown, Conn., massacre, once we think beyond the heartache, futility and insanity resulting from the actions of a deranged 20-year-old who gunned down 26 people, is the politics that inevitably follows.

The bodies weren’t yet cold before that gun-control issue surfaced. The loathsome part of the issue stems from the accusations that those of us who argue for more gun control have somehow politicized the issue. Already millions of words have been written accusing us of “taking advantage of a tragedy to further their own agenda.”

Let’s get real.

It’s not as if we who favor stricter laws on gun ownership were hoping the slaughter of 26 flesh-and-blood people — mostly kindergartners — would stir us into saying, “Oh, good! Now we can use those shootings to help us argue our case. Let’s go!” That’s as inane as our surmising the gun advocates are saying, “Oh good! Let’s band together before Obama takes away all our guns.”

One of the byproducts of the unspeakably horrid tragedy is that the shooter, a young man named Adam Lanza, also put a bullet, or several, into his own head. The secrets Lanza had are buried with him. In a totally ambivalent way, I’m glad he killed himself, guaranteeing that he can’t ever repeat the crime, but parts of me wish he were still alive so he could be “put under glass” and examined by experts to try to discern why Lanza used (I hesitate to use the word “needed”) three powerful weapons to perform his deed.

I’ve promised myself that come New Year’s Day, I’ll refuse to allow this senseless act to drag me down. No, I never knew any of the victims, though I feel a vicarious kinship to Emilie Parker, 6, who during a short time of her young life, lived in Rio Rancho.

My resolution to “get over it” is related to the extra dose of empathy I have over the execution of kids who normally run and play, go to school, to church, to birthday parties, hug and kiss their parents and who get tucked in at night by loving parents.

They are part of the humanity that ceased to be in the few short minutes it took a madman to spray classrooms with bullets.

But back to politicizing:

Friday’s Albuquerque Journal contained an op-ed piece by a Dennis Smith, an Albuquerque resident, who continues to equate things that kill. As if we’d never heard the argument before, Smith writes that we kill far more young people with multi-ton cars. He then proposes a poorly constructed analogy in which he compares numbers of people killed by bullets to those killed by cars.

Get real, Dennis Smith.

Cars kill people. That part is true, but does Smith ever remind us that the automobile was invented to transport people. True, some nuts behind the wheel decimate our population, and for them — the DWI crowd — they should never be allowed to drive again.

To complete Smith’s analogy, let’s remind him that guns are for killing. If this were a war zone, many of us would concede the necessity of assault rifles. But this is not a war zone. Why does anyone, the Average Joe included, need an AK-47, for example, whose only purpose is mass killing?

To his credit, the Journal op-ed contributor makes a few valid points: The more realistic the video games, like Grand Theft Auto, the better; and, Smith says, we watch movies “where the whole plot is people breaking the law in their cars. Why? Because it’s fun.”

How far can we take that analogy? I’m surprised Smith didn’t reduce the argument to a total absurdity by suggesting banning bathtubs because, after all, there have been reported deaths due to slipping and falling.

Let’s hope our lawmakers employ reason in crafting laws designed to protect the public and that these easily accessible killing devices are kept out of the hands of crazies.

A list of mass shootings, relating only to schools, dating back to 1989, shows 11 additional occasions that took lives, ranging from six people killed and 29 injured in an Ohio elementary school, to the killing of 26 in Connecticut. The victims ranged from elementary to college-level students. That does not include incidents such as the movie theater slayings in Aurora, Colo.           

About the Sandy Hook tragedy, Obama expressed our sentiments exactly: “Together we will carry on and make our country worthy of their memory.”

• • •

I never fail to read Editha Bartley’s Palabras Pintorescas column in the Optic each Friday. The latest installment was about fruitcakes. Now Editha, close to my age, surely refers to the distant past, when people actually ate, wrapped, baked, and gifted fruitcakes, though not necessarily in that order.

That was then.

What Editha didn’t mention is that for the past 20-some years, there have been no new fruitcakes. It’s complicated, but let me explain:

There’s only one fruitcake, but it’s never been eaten. It simply floats around the world. Whoever has it now transfers it to someone else, who graciously accepts it, waits for the gifter to leave, then immediately gift-wraps it for the next person.

That traveling cake currently is somewhere near Council Bluffs, Iowa. It’s expected to reach New Mexico in 2023, around the time of the next predicted Mayan end of the world. And if our estimates are right, the aging fruitcake will arrive at our house sometime that year.

Remember: There’s only one such fruitcake. Like the Twinkie and the Big Mac, it has a  l-o-n-g shelf life.

Art Trujillo is a copy editor at the Optic and a contributing member of the newspaper’s Editorial Board. He may be reached by calling 425-6796 or by e-mail to art@rezio.net or  atrujillo@lasvegasoptic.com.