This week 19 children and two adults were massacred in the Robb Elementary School shooting in Texas. There have been more than 200 mass shootings in the US - more than days in the year so far. Matt Ragghianti writes for Canvas on the reality of living in the 'land of the free'.
It's 4.45pm - Wednesday, May 25 , 2022 - in Los Angeles. Do you know where your children are?
I ask because, as you may have heard, another 19 of them were slaughtered in their classroom yesterday. Or was it 20? Or 50? It's hard to keep up considering the more than 200 mass shootings we've endured in America … this year. Twenty-seven of them at schools. So far, anyway, it's not even June.
My wife and I have two sons who attend school a few kilometres from our home in Los Angeles and, just like every other kid in America yesterday, they walked into a hurricane of hugs from parents overwhelmed with relief at their safe return home. Not from Mariupol, mind you. From Year 5. Let that sink in a minute.
America is the only place in the Western world where parents have to wake up and wonder if today is the day their child is going to be murdered at school. Just another teensy, little hassle to add to your morning triage: "Let's see … 10am staff meeting, afternoon pitch with the new client, must get to that yoga class … oh, and fingers crossed Isabelle doesn't get her head blown off by a military-grade assault rifle at lunch."
Okay. That's pretty bleak, I'll admit. It ain't all bad over here in US of A.
We've got Taylor Swift. In-N-Out Burger. And the best goddamn healthcare system in the whole world – something we know because obscenely rich CEOs won't stop telling us. Don't dawdle over the fact nobody can afford to actually use that system. It's THE BEST! Do you want to be a winner or don't you?
We've got not one, but two whole political parties locked in a lifelong battle to see who can f*** us in the most damaging (and profitable!) way possible. And God bless the Democrats, I know they're trying, but the Republicans are just plain special. Want an example? In 2017, when they took control of the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House, one of the very first pieces of legislation they passed revoked an Obama administration statute preventing people who had been adjudicated to be mentally ill from purchasing a gun. That's right, Republicans simply could not wait to reverse a law that said crazy people couldn't buy machine guns. Not "crazy" like your mate, Terry from the pub; crazy as in people specifically declared by a judge to be legally insane.
So, listen, don't let this get you down, there's too much great stuff on the horizon to let a tiny bump in the road like the wholesale execution of little children or the unimaginable grief of their parents get in your way. Football season is only three months away!
Don't waste time wondering why the richest country in the history of the world can't release any of that wealth to its citizens in a fashion that might allow them to quit that third or fourth job they've been working just to be able to afford the most rudimentary healthcare services you can imagine, and actually spend some time with their family. Petrol is down to less than $6 a gallon!
And definitely don't go one step further and wonder, if people could afford to spend more time with their family, maybe … just maybe … they might see something was wrong with their son … or their brother… or their dad. And, perhaps then, they might have a chance to talk and to listen to their loved one before what began as a petty argument about the phone bill, or a common, teenage fear that no girl would ever like them could fester in the hypnotic glow of a Facebook chatroom where they're told they're not crazy or even overreacting until it leads to, well … you know.
Besides, I'm sure someone will give an impassioned speech before Congress that finally makes those distinguished ladies and gentlemen take notice … LOL, I'm just bulls***ting you. More than 90 per cent of Americans want stricter background checks before purchasing a firearm - the bare minimum of what it should take. You can't get 90 per cent of us to agree on anything - but here we are. And the Republicans controlling the Senate won't even allow a vote to try to pass this legislation through to become law. I mean, it's not like any of their children got killed.
But whatevs, right?
In-N-Out is open 'til 1am, y'all. And Tay-Tay is going to re-release 1989! Plus, some other dickless coward will mow down another group of innocent children in no time at all – we're averaging one mass shooting every 17.5 hours this year.
Is this some dystopian nightmare we're bingeing on Netflix? Some dark Stephen King novella? Nope, just another (deadly) day in the Greatest Country on Earth. Can you feel the freedom yet?
Matt Ragghianti is a Los Angeles screenwriter, producer and journalist.