Pubdate: Wed, 07 Oct 2015
Source: Seattle Weekly (WA)
Column: Higher Ground
Copyright: 2015 Village Voice Media
Author: Michael A. Stusser


Legal pot was supposed to bring Oregon some joy.

October 1 was supposed to be a day of historic joy in Oregon, as 
legal sales of marijuana were finally allowed, ending decades of 
Prohibition in one of the states leading the charge on the issue. 
Instead, the celebration was interrupted by a shooting at Umpqua 
Community College, where (yet another) mentally disturbed young man 
went on a mass killing spree with a semi-automatic weapon. Hard to 
stand in line for an ounce of primo weed, high-fiving budtenders, and 
fellow stoners at a recreational store when friends and neighbors 
next door are unsure if their own children are among the dead.

Now, not being able to celebrate legalized cannabis is hardly the 
point, but the crushing reality of gun violence and the number of 
dampened dreams it represents surely is. Family members and loved 
ones are hitting the airwaves, followed by mayors and clergy and 
those damn pundits, to grieve and vent and pass the blame. Eventually 
then the experts and advocates and peaceniks will speak clearly and 
articulately of the fact-based changes that surely should be made, 
including assault-rifle bans, waiting periods, gun safety training, 
and closing whatever the hell the fucking gun-show loophole is.

Those propping up Reefer Madness are full of hate and denial and lies 
which obscure not only the truth, but the will of the people. The 
four states thus far that have legalized cannabis have overcome odds, 
cliches, and a massive industry not willing to change-in this case 
the pharmaceutical companies that make billions off fixing our 
ailments with addictive, toxic substances that can't be grown at 
home, and the prison-industrial complex that thrives on a War on 
Drugs and the 650,000 (mostly black) Americans who are arrested each 
year for marijuana-related offenses.

Gun control's fierce and well-funded minority opponent is well-known: 
the National Rifle Association. No real reason to go into the litany 
of strategies and threats and bullying and buying-off of politicans 
that the organization employs; you've heard them all before-I'd be 
preaching to the masses. And yet . . .

Insanity is said to be doing the same thing over and over and 
expecting a different result. So. As of today, October 7, in the 
first 280 days of the year, we've had 294 mass shootings (in which 
four or more people are killed or injured by gunfire) in the United 
States. In all, 10,000 have been killed and 20,000 injured in almost 
40,000 episodes of gun violence so far this year. And counting.

The President, who is, like all of us, to blame for inaction on the 
issue, got as pissed as you'll ever see him when, for the 15th time 
in his presidency, he had to hold a press conference after a mass shooting.

"This is a political choice we make to allow this to happen every few 
months in America," he said. "We are collectively answerable to those 
families, who lose their loved ones, because of our inaction."

Democracy, related to any issue of concern, requires participation, 
and not in an "I vote every four years" kinda way. Each of the four 
states that have legalized recreational marijuana-Washington, Alaska, 
Colorado, Oregon-had to do so through citizens' initiatives, as 
lawmakers saw no political advantage to taking the lead and lobbyists 
for Captains of Industry paid them handsomely to stay mute on the 
issue. Even among the 23 states with medical-marijuana laws-which 
more than 80 percent of the public now supports-all but 10 had to do 
so via ballot measures. And so it seems that may have to be the path 
forward on gun regulations, an issue in which a huge majority 
supports common-sense restrictions.

Until then, I urge joining the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. It 
also can't hurt to directly contact your congressperson to demand she 
or he introduce and support strong gun-control laws. We can change 
the course of history, overcome corporate opposition, and win on the 
issue of gun violence-no, terrorism-that's tearing our country apart. 
And when we do, then we can really celebrate, without interruption.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom