19 Buenos Tipos Con Armas Pero Sin Cojones

It’s Memorial Day weekend 2022, and since New Year’s Day, the United States of America has averaged three mass shootings every two days. Cerise’s latest issue of The New Yorker, which arrived in her mail yesterday, opened the Talk of the Town with a Comment entitled “Gun Country.” It concerned a massacre committed by one Peyton S. Gendron, a pathetic pawn in the current shameless Trump Republican / Fox News brainwashing game pushing the preposterous lie of a White race replacement conspiracy fomented by a shadowy Democrat cabal, who drove from his little upstate town of Conklin all the way to Buffalo with the express purpose of murdering as many Black Americans as he could. That was on May 14. The ink being barely dry on Eustace Tilley’s anguished cry of outrage, however, and three days, in fact, before Cerise would even be able to read it, another extraordinarily sanguine act of assault rifle violence was perpetrated in Uvalde, Texas, a tiny city of fifteen thousand souls, nestled in the Hill Country region between San Antonio and the Mexican state of Coahuila.
Now, when people – here in the USA or, I dare say, anywhere – hear the words “New York,” they immediately think of New York City. Some, perhaps coming from the upper Midwest or Canada, might also think of major cities in the State of New York that lie on the Great Lakes, such as Rochester, Syracuse or Buffalo. And some others might think of Niagara Falls, the Finger Lakes or the Adirondack Mountains, idyllic places of bucolic splendor in Upstate New York made famous by Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper and a host of other romantic American authors. Nobody thinks of Conklin. But there, unfortunately, lies the heart of Upstate New York – and it has much in common with Uvalde, and actually, with just about all of the State of Texas.
Conklin is a town with a population of five thousand. It’s less than four miles from the Pennsylvania border, it’s very rural, and the people there love guns. And as Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence “Coke Can” Thomas once noted, there’s a big difference between New York City and places like Conklin. Justice Thomas, of course, like his loony spouse, loves guns, particularly high-powered assault rifles, just as much as the farmers and townspeople of Conklin do, and even though an AR-15 with a high-capacity ammunition clip certainly isn’t the most appropriate thing to hunt deer with, they will nevertheless tell you they prefer them to those old-fashioned buckshot guns for that purpose. And although it’s patently ridiculous to say so, they will do it with a straight face.
It’s pretty much the same in Uvalde, Texas, too. It’s small, it’s rural and the folks just love them there guns, particularly semi-automatic assault rifles with great big banana clips stuffed full of high-powered rounds. And scattered across the American continent are scads of similar small towns and cities, all basically rural, all basically backward, all basically ignorant, and all basically nursing imagined grievances against the urban elites they constantly fantasize to be the cause of all their problems. And all of them are absolutely in love with high-powered semi-automatic assault rifles with great big long ammunition magazines. I don’t think you need be Sigmund Freud or Federico Fellini to figure that one out.
Their problems, of course, have very little to do with urban elites – by which they mean the professional class, not the billionaires. As the phenomenon of Donald Trump readily proves, such benighted bumpkins idolize rich people and follow their edicts like sheep flocking after a bellwether. No, it’s the educated experts, like Dr. Fauci, for instance – people that know better than them and tell them what they should do, people who make decisions about things like public health, schools, child welfare, laws, regulations, taxes, and yes, gun control – these are the “elites” those people so vehemently hate. And, ironically, as I can readily attest, holding consultations with many of them five or six days a week, what those professionals are quite often trying to do is help people like the residents of Conklin and Uvalde solve their problems, which arise, not from improbable conspiracies hatched by cartoonish villains in marble public palaces, but primarily from technological, economic, social and environmental change. Sadly, as it turns out, the real root problem for people like the residents of Conklin and Uvalde is the fact that they are either incapable of coping with change, or, just as often, stubbornly unwilling to cope with it. So instead, they rely on a key historical flaw in US constitutional jurisprudence – misinterpretation of the Second Amendment – and stockpile semi-automatic assault rifles (and full-auto conversion kits they acquired off the Internet with their cell phones), high-capacity magazines and thousands of rounds of ammunition to defend their “freedoms” from the “elites” in the coming “storm” they mistakenly conceive will soon engulf their nation. As a consequence, there are now twelve guns for every ten people in the United States of America and lately, more often than every day, in fact, somebody, for some reason or another, grabs one and shoots several victims.
Now, residents of every country in the world except North Korea read this Web log, and I’m pretty sure most of them look at this situation we have here in the US and wonder how it got this way. Is it cultural? Is there something in the water? Or are Americans just essentially just a bunch of homicidal maniacs? Well, no – none of the above. As a matter of fact, America’s gun problem stems from yet more flaws in the US Constitution and how it has been applied since its adoption in September of 1787. The first big flaw is the structure of the Senate – way back when, little colonies like Rhode Island wanted to make sure that big colonies like Virginia didn’t have too much power because of their large populations (remember, this was the eighteenth century – both states are small potatoes now). So they insisted that, in addition to a House of Representatives that would have proportional voting representation, there be another body, the Senate, where every state would have equal representation, that being two senators each. This in itself might not have been too much of a problem, but then Aaron Burr came along and introduced the filibuster to the Senate, that being only one of many spanners he threw into the clockworks of American democracy in his long and notorious career. This, in more modern times, having been accompanied by Senate rules requiring a three-fifths majority (today, 60 votes) to cut off debate (i.e., stop a filibuster), gummed up the machinery of federal legislation for over a century, and not just regarding the passage of gun control laws. The Senate filibuster was a key factor in denying American Blacks their voting rights between 1877 and 1965, for example. Bottom line, since the early nineteenth century, the constitutional structure of the US Senate and the filibuster have worked in tandem to foster and perpetuate a tyranny of the minority.
And to what minority do I refer when I speak of guns in America? Despite the vast tracts of land comprising the regions of the United States inhabited by them, the actual population of states controlled by gun-stroking morons in this country totals only about seventy-seven million. That, out of a population of three-hundred and thirty million – a mere twenty-three percent.
The tyranny of the minority manifested in the Senate with respect to guns stems from the fact that those seventy-seven million people are spread out over some very, very thinly populated states, like Wyoming, the Dakotas, Montana and Idaho, all of which have, nevertheless, two senators, or reside in states like Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas or the Carolinas, none of which have very large populations, but are nevertheless represented by two senators apiece and furthermore, are places where the Civil War and firearms make up the basis of a de-facto regional religion. And if recent public opinion polls are to be believed (admittedly, that’s a personal choice, but I believe the reputable ones), over ninety percent of Americans favor gun control of some sort, indicating it’s likely, even in states like those, that sizable pluralities, if not outright majorities of the citizens there also think that it’s a really stupid idea to use a Bushmaster XM-15 with a dozen loaded banana clips to hunt deer.
Nevertheless, in the great state of Texas, a young fellow named Salvador Ramos went out and bought just those things to celebrate his eighteenth birthday. That’s correct, civilized world, you heard it right – as bizarre as it may seem to rational minds London, Tokyo or Mumbai – in Texas, you have to be twenty-one to buy a pint of beer, but you can purchase a semi-automatic assault rifle and three thousand rounds of ammunition the day you turn eighteen. All you need is the money and the ID; Walmart will sell them to you with a smile. After returning home from shopping, he promptly shot his grandmother (who had annoyed him by interfering with his smart phone service and social media accounts), stole her car, crashed it into a ditch, ran into a nearby elementary school and used his new toy to murder twenty-one people, nineteen of whom were children. Many of their bodies were so disfigured by bullet impacts, visual identification of their remains was impossible; it was necessary accomplish that by use of DNA matching with their bereaved parents.
Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, thinks semi-automatic assault rifles are just grand, and he’s not shy about saying so. His sentiments reflect what is probably the majority opinion about them in his state, too, because Texas is, and has always been, a haven for people with a fetish for firearms. Unlike upstate New York, which is a large, but limited enclave of such individuals, a culture of rural, ignorant, violent, gun-toting nastiness pervades almost the entire state of Texas, and the places where this point of view does not prevail – Austin and Houston, primarily – are the enclaves. Spouting the party line of the National Rifle Association, he insists that the way to prevent recurrences of such horrors as the holocaust at Robb Elementary School is more guns. That’s right, Governor Abbott actually suggests that arming teachers and putting armed guards in elementary schools are feasible and sane public policy responses to what happened in Uvalde on May 24. And in addition to rattling off the usual platitudes about “thoughts and prayers,” he also constantly repeats the NRA’s favorite mantra, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.”
Well, Rambo phone home, because today at my home in Great Falls, I got call from one of those good guys.

Tom: Hello?
Voice: Is this… Tom Collins?
Tom: Yes… this is he. To whom, may I ask, am I speaking?
Voice: Um… I’d… rather not say… exactly.
Tom: Well, who are you, generally, then, and what do you want?
Voice: Oh, I’m sorry, Mr. Collins, I don’t mean to be rude. I’m… a law enforcement officer from Texas.
Tom: Really? Let me guess – from somewhere in the vicinity of Uvalde.
Voice: Uh, kinda, yeah.
Tom: And you got my home phone number from somebody on the staff of Representative Tony Gonzales?
Voice: Um… yeah.
Tom: Who told you he got it from somebody on the staff of either Senator Ted Cruz or John Cornyn.
Voice: Yeah, it was one of those. Um, you can call me… ah… Juan.
Tom: Okay, “Juan,” law enforcement officer from somewhere in Texas in the vicinity of Uvalde, what can I do for you, por favor?
Juan: I was told you’re the smartest person in Washington DC.
Tom: Which is a lot like being the tallest building in Baltimore.
Juan: Baltimore? That’s in… New Jersey?
Tom: It’s in Maryland, about forty miles northeast of Washington.
Juan: I never been there. They have a lot of really tall buildings in Baltimore?
Tom: Not particularly.
Juan: I… uh… okay, look, I was told you charge huge amounts for your advice, but you will give someone advice for free just one time. Is that right?
Tom: Yes. Generally, it’s in anticipation of further business, which, however, I am pretty sure a Texas law enforcement officer could not possibly afford to conduct with me.
Juan: From what I’ve heard, I think maybe you’re right. Does that mean I get no free advice, one time?
Tom: Of course not. I consider consultations like this to be pro bono. What’s your problem?
Juan: Oh, good, then, to get started, I was one of the officers at the school last Tuesday.
Tom: One of the nineteen standing in the hallway outside the classroom?
Juan: I was there before that, but yeah, one of them.
Tom: Interesting. Tell me, when you were standing in the hallway, did you hear any gunshots?
Juan: Yeah.
Tom: Screaming?
Juan: Yeah, that too.
Tom: Did you know that children inside Robb Elementary School were calling 911 on their cell phones, begging for law enforcement to save them?
Juan: We did not know that at the time, no.
Tom: But somebody in law enforcement did, right? The children were calling 911, after all.
Juan: Yeah, well, like they say, mistakes were made. Hindsight is 20-20 and all.
Tom: Right. So, there were nineteen of you good guys with guns out there in the hallway and there was screaming and gunshots on the other side of the door. What were you thinking?
Juan: Well, we’d been told that the shooter wasn’t a danger to the children.
Tom: Really? What did you think he was doing?
Juan: I donno – shooting at the ceiling to scare them, maybe?
Tom: And you were waiting for what?
Juan: We were… uh… waiting for the school janitor.
Tom: Waiting for the school janitor? Why?
Juan: Because, see, he had the key to the door.
Tom: Oh, really? You weren’t, by any chance, waiting for the Border Patrol SWAT team to arrive, were you?
Juan: Um…
Tom: So they could go in, as they did, kill the gunman, and stop the slaughter?
Juan: Aw [expletive], man, it wasn’t like that, I mean, guess it kinda was like that, but you had to be there, you know?
Tom: What about the desperate parents who saw the cops weren’t doing anything and tried to run into the school to save their children? Did you participate in restraining and tasing them?
Juan: I don’t wanna say, you know, ’cause that might tend to identify me too much, okay?
Tom: But you at least witnessed that, didn’t you – law enforcement personnel restraining and tasing captured children’s parents as they attempted to save their kids?
Juan: Let’s just say I know it happened and leave it at that, okay?
Tom: All right, let’s say that. So – were you… scared… when you went into the school?
Juan: Aw, come on, man, don’t ask me that. I’m a cop!
Tom: Well, there you were, right, with your service revolver or your Glock or whatever handgun you carry around all day, maybe a shotgun from the trunk of your patrol car, and inside, you hear this assault rifle going off – I mean, you knew the gunman had an assault rifle just by the sound of the thing, didn’t you?
Juan: Yeah, sure, man, you can’t miss those. When they go off, you know it – that’s a [expletive] AR-15 or an AK-47 or a Bushmaster – I mean, [expletive] man, you can’t miss it, no way. We all knew he had something like that. And those [expletive], man, you know, they got ammo clips half as long as your arm! They won’t quit! And we heard him poppin’ off rounds like it was firecrackers on the Fourth of July!
Tom: I understand CSI recovered one hundred and forty-two spent rounds.
Juan: I donno, man, in a situation like that, who’s counting, you know? Sounded like more than that to me when I was there, that’s for sure. But it was Pete Arrendo, see…
Tom: Pedro Arrendo, the Uvalde School District Police Chief?
Juan: Yeah, him. He said it was a “barricaded subject situation.” That’s why everybody hung back, see?
Tom: Was Chief Arrendo at the scene when he made that situation assessment?
Juan: Uh… I…
Tom: Did you see him there?
Juan: Um… no… but that don’t mean he wasn’t there, right? Like they say, absence of evidence ain’t evidence of absence, is it?
Tom: Buk-buk-buk! Ptwauk! Ptwauk!
Juan: Huh? What?
Tom: Chicken cops! Buk-buk-buk, ptwuak, buk-buk-buk! Nineteen chicken cops!
Juan: Hey, now, hold on there a second…
Tom: Ptwauk! Ptwauk! Chicken cops! Buk-buk-buk, buk-buk-buk! Ptwauk! Nineteen chicken, chicken, chicken, chicken cops!
Juan: Come on now, you’re like, what they say, givin’ me micro-aggressions or something, trigger words and [expletive]!
Tom: Chicken!
Juan: Am not!
Tom: Nineteen chicken cops!
Juan: Am not!
Tom: Am too! Buk-buk-buk! Ptwauk! Chicken cop! Chicken cop! Chicken cop!
Juan: Stop it!
Tom: Oh, you were pretty brave beating up and tasing hysterical parents trying to save their children from a mass murderer. They were willing to run into that school with nothing – completely unarmed – but you guys – you chicken cops, standing there frozen in terror, with your little pistols and puny shotguns listening to a Bushmaster XM-15 blasting away, thinking about those bone-shattering, flesh-pulverizing rounds. Were they 62-grain 0.223’s you wondered, or was he using those extra-bad 5.56 x 45 NATO rounds that can penetrate a kevlar vest, tumble through a man’s guts, turning them into blood pudding, come out through his spine on other side and still put a three-inch deep hole in a concrete wall? Buk-buk-buk! Ptwauk! Cowering, shivering, chicken cops!
Juan: Oh, please, come on, stop… I’m sorry… yeah, okay, I was scared.
Tom: That’s right, you were scared because you knew what you were dealing with, didn’t you? You knew, because it’s Texas, and you own an assault rifle yourself, don’t you?
Juan: Yeah, I do… an AR-15, but I don’t bring it to work! None of us do! We just, you know… hunt deer with them.
Tom: You do not. Hit a deer with an AR-15 and you get such a mess half the meat’s splattered with guts and you can’t eat it. You know that. You and your buddies own assault rifles so you can go out in the sticks and blow the [expletive] out of watermelons and glass bottles and such [expletive] while you drink beer and pretend you’re Chuck Norris or Vin Diesel shooting super-villains in some macho fantasy you all visualize when you go back home and bang wives.
Juan: Well… okay… maybe we do… it’s not illegal nur nothin’.
Tom: You and your eighteen chicken cop buddies out there in the hallway knew all too well what a Bushmaster XM-15 can do, and that’s why you waited until a SWAT team with their own assault rifles showed up to kill that murdering, pathetic excuse for a human being.
Juan: All right! All right! I admit it! I was scared [expletive]-less! We all were! We go in that room with nothing but pistols and shotguns and we were all gonna die! What kind of [expletive] odds are those?
Tom: And how do you feel now about the way you behaved?
Juan: [Expletive], man, I feel like I’m gonna have to live with that memory and feel like a cowardly piece of [expletive] garbage for the rest of my [expletive] life, that’s how I feel!
Tom: Correct. And why did you call me?
Juan: Oh, Jesus Christ! I’m so [expletive] upset I can hardly remember! [Expletive]… oh yeah, I wanted to know how me and my… you know, the other guys who were there with me that day…
Tom: Your colleagues.
Juan: Yeah, how me and my… colleagues… can, you know, kind of… explain our side of the story to all these reporters that have been pestering us.
Tom: Okay. That’s pretty simple, actually – just blame it on your management. In a tactful way, of course.
Juan: Meaning, like what?
Tom: When the reporters ask you about what happened, explain how confused the situation was. By the time the classroom door was breached, there were more flavors of law enforcement involved than Baskin-Robbins has ice creams. And here you were, the foot soldiers, so to speak, awaiting orders and instructions that arrived in an untimely manner.
Juan: Can you run that last part by me again?
Tom: Sure. Tell them you were “awaiting… orders… and instructions… that arrived… in an… untimely… manner.”
Juan: But – that business, when they put all those Nazis on trial in Germany…
Tom: You mean, Nuremburg?
Juan: Yeah, I guess I do – um… they said they were just following orders, but they got convicted anyway, didn’t they?
Tom: Yes, but the difference is: you… never… got… any… orders… until the verylastminute. It was just a coincidence that those orders arrived at pretty much the same time that the SWAT team showed up with their plethora of accoutrements de guerre.
Juan: Their what?
Tom: Their huge [expletive]-load of assault rifles, tactical gear, body armor, laser sights, flash-bang grenades and so forth.
Juan: Oh, yeah, that. Yeah, they did. And they killed that [expletive] [expletive].
Tom: Another case of Texas testosterone poisoning put out of his misery. So that’s it – you followed orders, they were legal orders, and it’s not your fault that incompetent superiors, higher up in the various law enforcement agencies involved, miserably failed the various tests of reasoning, command, control and communication that it was their task to pass.
Juan: Well then, I guess I know what to say now.
Tom: And don’t say too much else. Reporters are always trying to give you enough rope to hang yourself. Don’t take it.
Juan: Okay, got it. Um… one more question?
Tom: Sure.
Juan: Say, for instance, if one of those superiors, like maybe Chief Pete, called you up for some free advice and asked you how he could get out of responsibility for what happened at Robb Elementary School on May 24? What would you tell him?
Tom: If any of the law enforcement commanders involved in that incident call me, I assure you, I will advise each and every one of them to go straight to hell.
Juan: Sounds like a plan, Mr. Collins. Much obliged.
Tom: No problem. Now go find a good mental health therapist to help you with your PTSD so you don’t freak out during an anxiety flashback and kill yourself with your AR-15.
Juan: Will do, Mr. Collins. Thanks.
Tom: You’re welcome. Goodbye.