Arms of Fire

images-2The warrior planet is in his element. A week before the Equinox – on the New Moon of March 11th –Mars entered Aries, the sign of its rulership. This inaugurated a riff of transits that will set off the explosive Uranus-Pluto square (see April’s Skywatch). Among the issues pushed to the fore in this period is one that usually disappears from the public conversation as suddenly as it appears: murder by firearms.

Arms of fire. Once, they were called fire sticks by the astonished natives who found themselves at the business end of the muzzle.

As Spring dawns upon the USA, martial havoc is all over the news. Although drone murders have been happening for years (see February’s blog), only now are they part of the American public conversation. As are gun murders on the part of private citizens.

A lot of people are wondering when it was that firearms became so ubiquitous in American culture. These days guns are in the streets, in the garage, on TV and in the movies. There are guns in cartoons and comic books. There are lots and lots of guns in video games. A member of Oakland’s ultra-violent Nutcases gang confessed that he and his bros used Grand Theft Auto as a model.images-5

Mars’s spotlight is widening to include interconnections between social themes. Such as the relationship between guns and drugs. Both kinds of drugs: street and ‘scrip. As to the former, the phrase “a drug deal gone bad” has become a tragically predictable tagline of crime reporting.

As to the latter, the first thing that comes to mind when we hear about the latest mass shooting is, “What was he on?” (In the mug shots below, just look at these guys’ eyes). Soon after the Newtown shootings in December, a YouTube video came out called “I am Adam Lanza’s Doctor,” in which a psychiatrist excoriated pediatric psycho-pharmacology. She persuasively blasts shrinks who medicate children and young adults instead of listening to them. And as Mars (violence) conjoined Neptune in Pisces (drugs) in early February, out came “Side Effects”, the first Hollywood thriller to use Big Pharma as a backdrop.

images-8 images-7Domestic violence, too, is on the radar in a new way. It takes a mass shooting to grab the headlines in the USA, but the overwhelming majority of gun murders are committed by someone the victim knows. In 2011, 565 children were killed by guns, according to the FBI. No serial killers here, no random strangers. Something more disturbing still: family. This is the dark underbelly of the sign Cancer (the domestic sphere), which will become increasingly visible over the next two years, as transiting Pluto’s opposition to the US Sun moves into exactitude.

If firearms made for a safer country, the USA would be the safest in the world. But per capita gun murders here are about twenty times the average of other industrialized countries. If guns are around, they’ll get used. It cannot surprise anyone that the states with the worst gun control, including Alaska, Louisiana and Montana, have the highest rates of deaths by gunfire. If you’re packing, you’re more than four times as likely to be shot during an assault than if you aren’t.

The gun debate, while polarized, is splitting the usual factions. The Second Amendment argument is being espoused not just by libertarians and Republicans RedneckDeerRiflebut by some leftists as well, whose distrust of  officialdom makes it anathema to think of the government being armed when the citizenry is not. To which progressive journalist Tim Redmund responds: “When the black helicopters arrive to round us up, your handgun ain’t gonna help.”

The NRA argues that burglars avoid the houses of gun owners, but the evidence suggests the opposite. Increasingly, guns are a hot item to steal, and the trend is to break into cops’ cars and houses to get them. Inevitably, those hideous exploding-bullet guns — the ones police chiefs insist should be allowed, but for cops only — will end up on the street if they are allowed at all.

This is prompting some of us to ask: Why do the cops need these, anyway? Why use flesh-ripping, high-tech military guns, that insure a death? For that matter, why does the military need them?

Why are these monstrous concoctions even in existence?

At some point along humanity’s evolutionary arc, these questions have to be asked. The cultural eruptions which prompt them are signs of the times. Transits tell us when it is time for collective consciousness to ripen in a certain area, at which point events occur like a milkweed pod bursting open. Those seeds scatter and land somewhere. Sooner or later they sprout.