Colson: It’s simple — lots of guns means lots of shootings

John Colson
Hit & Run

OK, this is nuts.

Last week, over the course of just a few days, we learned that cops in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and in St. Paul, Minnesota, had fatally shot two black men under murky circumstances and then that a sniper in Dallas had killed five cops and wounded 11 other people, including cops and civilians.

Over the weekend, protests erupted in numerous cities, politicians were trying to earn political brownie points by blaming this group or that group, and in general the entire country seemed to be tearing out its collective hair once again.

As it turned out, the sniper was an unbalanced ex-military type, a young black man with a grudge against white people and cops, who also had a lot of weaponry stashed at his home.

Not that his grudge was completely unjustified — it cannot be denied by anyone with eyes, ears and a brain that the scab has been ripped off our national incipient racism.

And although some have vilified the New York Post for its glaring “Civil War!” headline following the Dallas sniper attack, I can’t say I go along with such complaints.

I can’t be certain, of course, whether the headline writers meant that we are now in a state of civil war or were using hyperbole to predict that if we keep to our present course, we soon will be in a full-blown civil war.

Either way, I’d say they unfortunately were on target with the sentiment.

Because the unvarnished truth is that, like it or not, we are in many ways still fighting the Civil War despite the fact that our public story was that we put all that behind us 150 years ago or so.

Racial enmity in this country is a festering sore on the body politic that occasionally bursts like a huge boil and splatters anger and bloodshed in all directions.

That image bother you?

Well, guess what? Until we face this evil undercurrent in our society, until we lance that boil and somehow shine a light on its root causes and burn them away, we will continue to watch as black people are discriminated against, their economic plight ignored while they continue to be ghettoized, underemployed and killed unfairly and unnecessarily by cops who too often let their racial fear rule their trigger fingers.

Naturally, racist politicians already have their knives out and their guns loaded, determined to use this latest series of outrages to further fuel the sickness that feeds their popularity.

One absolutely worthless, former teabagging piece of slime, Joe Walsh, tweeted to the world that the entire sequence of events was the fault of President Barack Obama and the Black Lives Matter movement out of his apparent belief that the entire racist history of our country was something that black people brought on themselves. Walsh, a one-term congressional bigot from Illinois, then basically threatened the president (I thought that was a felony; why is this guy still at large?) and the movement, saying, “Real America is coming for you.”

All of this, of course, is going on against a background of rising political conflagration over gun rights, a blisteringly insane dispute that, like racism, has polluted our politics to the point where resorting to armed resistance has become almost routine.

The phenomenon of people shooting other people, as we all know, is not a new one. It’s been going on since guns were invented, only now it is becoming more and more pronounced as more and more guns are hanging about in homes, gun shows, gun stores and just about everywhere in these United States.

Our gun-happy culture has become one in which, as the death toll rises, we tend not to blame the easy availability of guns.

Instead, we allow our prejudice to take over our thought processes, and we blame a rather indistinct but powerful idea encapsulated by the idea of “the others,” mostly people of other races and cultures whom we view as enemies or at least undesirables.

But the plain fact is that it is humanity, as a generalized body of beings, that is to blame. Our ability to kill one another with gunfire has outstripped our capacity for cogent thought and appreciation of consequences, as we prove almost every day.

We here in the Roaring Fork Valley have been spared the worst of this sort of behavior, but still, it has happened.

I recall once incident, I think it was some time in the 1980s, when some unbalanced bozo was playing around with a rifle at his mobile home near Glenwood Springs when he decided to shoot out a tire on a passing car.

Unfortunately, he missed the tire and the bullet went through a window, killing the woman sitting in the passenger seat.

And a couple of years back, a man shot and killed his daughter’s boyfriend in a drunken rage one afternoon.

My point is, as I noted above, we are nuts, and as long as it’s easier to buy a gun and ammunition than it is, say, to sign up for unemployment benefits, our inherent irrationality will continue to result in distressingly frequent shootings.

Email at