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Daniel Defense, who made the gun used by the Uvalde shooter, runs ads suggesting, "Train up a child in the way he should go." Daniel Defense photo.

Train Up A Child In the Way He Should Go, and Fuck Your Empty Thoughts and Prayers

Abby Zimet

Sorry, but for now we're staying in this grisly, blood-soaked, gut-churning news cycle because over Memorial Day weekend gun violence killed at least 156 people and injured 412 in more than 300 shootings, including 14 mass shootings, proving per a mournful Sen. Chris Murphy that, "FYI: This isn't stopping," unless we make it. Even as the shredded bodies of Uvalde kids - "Trauma and cruelty on top of trauma and cruelty" - are buried this week in "a funeral that doesn't end," evidence grows of the shitshow of craven incompetence that was 19 cops, one purportedly good guy with a gun for each dead child, standing outside a classroom where a psychopath left for 78 minutes to his own demented devices shot 38 people, killing 21. Goddamn: Nothing says assault weapons should be banned like scores of terrified armed cops not doing their job because some sicko has one and they "could have been shot." And those who failed keep failing: Uvalde's Police Chief issued a stunningly tone-deaf statement of gratitude it was kids, not cops, who died - "Our entire department is thankful the officers didn't sustain any life-threatening injuries" - and school district Police Chief Peter Arredondo, reportedly the commander who made the inexplicable call to helplessly stand by, is not cooperating with investigators or talking to media; when confronted by CNN, he  stopped long enough to say "of course" he'd explain his murderous inaction "when the parents stop grieving," which will, duh, be never. But he did find time to get sworn in on the city council. Scumbag.
 
Because 19 slaughtered children splayed on a classroom floor are not a good look, even for them, GOP pols awash in guns and NRA money - Cruz and Romney, we're lookin' at you - find themselves on the queasy defensive. Which is not to say their responses then tilt toward the rational, compassionate or newly cognizant; it just means they double down on the defiant, delusional and self-serving. Their avatar in chest-thumping, gun-toting fascism remains Charlton Heston, who years after playing Moses and Ben-Hur became known as the bellicose "voice of the N.R.A." In a famous speech as NRA president in 2000, Heston spewed claptrap about "freedom's vanguard" fighting back "when loss of liberty is looming," because "they know that sacred stuff resides in that wooden stock and blued steel - something that gives the most common man the most uncommon of freedoms...When ordinary hands can possess such an extraordinary instrument, that symbolizes the full measure of human dignity and liberty," except maybe when it's massacring ten-year-olds. He ended by holding a musket aloft to proclaim, "From my cold dead hands!" Over 20 years later, speaking to the NRA fresh from the latest bloodshed, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott slightly muted the rhetoric but echoed the same paranoid chimera. “The answer to gun violence is not to take guns away (but) to strengthen the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” he said. “The problem is not guns - it’s hearts without God."
 
Abbott, meanwhile, has as much blood on his hands as the shooter. Having passed seven laws making firearms easier to buy and carry, child gun deaths have doubled under a tenure that's seen five other mass shootings, four involving assault-style rifles whose numbers nationwide have soared to 20 million. At pressers after Uvalde, Abbott has alternated between stubborn cluelessness and brazen indifference. He said the killer acted "incomprehensibly," pledged the state would "do everything that is necessary" to prevent more bloodshed, and stopped by a fundraiser. Then he cited mysterious "evil," pivoted to "mental health illness" despite no history, and because 19 dead kids isn't that bad, said it "could have been worse" without "brave" police rushing in and doing...nothing. Following his obtuse lead, GOPers have offered up their own deranged narratives. Klan Mom Marjorie Taylor Greene says we should have armed volunteer parent militias, hopefully before Russia attacks Canada. Laura Ingraham says reefer madness is behind shootings. Cruz, Patrick, McCarthy et al argue schools have too many doors and not enough armed guards, even though the NRA has long suggested both door reform and school thugs - along with fewer trees, higher fences, better locks, anti-explosive windows WTF - and Robb Elementary just made many of those changes, and yet here we are. 
 
Probably because, in fact, it's not doors or pot or trees or Satan or books or wokeness or people saying gay that's killing children but guns - specifically, military-style assault rifles with high-capacity magazines designed to kill. Last Tuesday, Georgia-based Daniel Defense - "Freedom, Passion, Precision" - posted a promotional photo on Twitter of its DDM4 V7 rifle ($1,870), which it touts as "a perfect rifle for everybody." Hours later, the shooter turned up at Robb Elementary with the same gun, and opened fire. (Daniel Defense weapons were also in the arsenal of shooter who killed 58 and injured over 500 in Las Vegas in 2017.) One of the country's largest rifle manufacturers, Daniel Defense specializes in high-end assault rifles and incendiary ads bizarrely adorned with Bible verses to go with them. On Easter, they posted "He Is Risen!" above an image of a cross, open Bible and rifle laid on top. Another ad shows a toddler sitting with an AR-15 and the text from Proverbs 22:6: "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Founder Marty Daniels told Breitbart in 2017 he believes the right to bear arms is granted by God "but also the Gospel," though we're not sure where the Bible tells us to shoot up a roomful of 4th graders. Still, Daniels made $73 million in 2016 and will likely make more after the Robb massacre; Sandy Hook, while "a horrible event," "drove a lot of sales." For now he's staying quiet - "deeply saddened" etc - and pulled out of NRA's bloodfest due to Uvalde, "where one of our products was criminally misused."
 
Shameless others did show up at the NRA confab. Will we ever forget Trump's grotesque Dance of the Sociopath after he garbled the names of the dead? Can we, please? But their numbers seemed more sparse than those protesting outside, who represent the vast majority of Americans who support gun control, reject "the power (of) the few," and are, in fury, speaking up. Read a livid Rude Pundit on the "cabal of wealthy fucks" barring books about gender identity and our own cruel history from children who must then learn how to survive massacre, "a continuation of the very violence and hatred at the core of America's story," wherein "what those terrible people were trying to hide was themselves." "Take this anger we have right now," he says, "to save ourselves (and) our kids." See Beto O'Rourke confront Abbott: "The time to stop the next shooting is now, and you are doing nothing." Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez did the same: "No family should have to go through what they are." Cruz tried to storm off but got trapped by a Sky reporter asking why America is the only country regularly visited by carnage. After Beto taught him "confront all hypocritical assholes," Benjamin Hernandez found Cruz during a sushi dinner - "If you think this is a safe space, guess what? I'm here too" - to lay the Ulvade deaths on him; earlier he'd left a smiling Cruz cutout with the words, "I murder teachers and children." And The Good Liars' Jason Selvig spoke with a Wayne LaPierre on the stage to thank him "for all his thoughts and prayers" and angrily reject woke mob charges the NRA doesn't stop gun violence. LaPierre, old and feeble, looked confused. Must be from the blood streaming down his demonic face.
 

"You heard it after Las Vegas, you heard it after Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, you heard it after Columbine, you heard it after Parkland, you heard it after Virginia Tech, you heard it after El Paso, you heard it after Buffalo, you kept hearing that Wayne LaPierre isn't doing enough and frankly, that's not true. The NRA, under Wayne LaPierre's leadership has provided thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families and maybe these mass shootings would stop happening if we all thought a little bit more and prayed a little bit more."

 


Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, she moved to the Maine woods in the early 70s, where she spent a dozen years building a house, hauling water and writing before moving to Portland. Having come of political age during the Vietnam War, she has long been involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues. Email: azimet18@gmail.com

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