I wish to God it didn't take a new mass killing to renew debate, when so many — so many — die daily by guns in the United States. In my city. Within 10 minute's drive. I shrug. We shrug; worse, we don't know. We don't care.
I wish mass killings weren't so commonplace, a nightmarish norm, real reality TV. An entertainment.
(There's the crime scene, the shrine … now the grieving angry family members … the recriminations … the essayists parsing the causes … ooh look, the gun lobby fires back, so to speak: Don't blame us! The script is familiar.)
I wish to God a grieving father reaching out to another grieving father for solutions actually put us on the path to solutions.
I wish the solution was to send a postcard to your representative, "Not one more." Can't hurt.
I wish to God their reaching out — the father of a victim to the father of an alleged killer — would be enough to make us lose our breath, and in shuddering to catch our breath, make us reconsider ourselves and what we support as a society.
Besides indifference and inaction.
I wish to God my first thought wasn't just, "Jeeezus!" and that my second thought wasn't, "Glad it's not me/my kid/my family." I wish still I could think of something more useful.
I wish to God the critics, the bloggers, the trolls, the spin controllers, the status quo, would all just shut up for about a week, roll their hyperbolic, vitriolic tongues back in their mouths, and consider these fathers' pleas.
I wish it wasn't the out-shoutin', sound-bitin', gun-rightin', trash-talkin', Sarah Palin, what's-that-have-to-do-with-anythin'? yell fest we get now instead of reasoned discourse.
I wish to God the National Rifle Association used its considerable influence for reasonable solutions — rather than attack any and all calls for change as a threat to all freedoms. They're not.
I wish the Second Amendment wasn't so poorly written. Or such an anachronism.
I wish to God people who feel need to kill others out of vengeance, retribution, loss, anger, torment, justice, loss of reality — what have you — get help they need without losing their human and civil rights.
I wish guns didn't so readily become the help they think they need.
I wish critics didn't say, "Should we ban knives too? Dude killed with knives too! Where you gonna draw the line?! Sharp pencils?!" I wish I had an answer for them.
I wish the alleged killer's roommates saw the signs and saved themselves, or knew how they might save their roommate. I wish the alleged killer's family got the help they sought for their child.
I wish I didn't agree with Michael Moore, who said of the Santa Barbara shootings, "Enjoy the rest of your day, and rest assured this will all happen again very soon." Moore made the flawed but essentially true documentary "Bowling for Columbine," examining — without solving — why gun deaths are vastly more prevalent in the United States than in other countries.
I wish to God our country wasn't exceptional in this way, but in the way we still talk about ourselves, even the most cynical of us: The greatest country in the world, the best, the most innovative, the ones who can figure this out.
I wish to God we didn't think these deaths are the price we pay for admission.