On September 13, 2012, just before the New Moon wiped off the slate to begin the new cycle, the last victim of July’s “Dark Knight” shootings checked out of the hospital to enter long-term care.
Astrologers had long been particularly wary about July and August 2012. We knew Mars in Libra would set off the Uranus-Pluto transit and the US Saturn-Sun square respectively. Right on schedule, citizen perps in Colorado and Wisconsin cast the spotlight on the endemic violence with which Americans have such an intimate, ambivalent relationship.
These awful events, with their quintessentially American locales—campuses, fast food courts, post offices, a movie theatre—are met with mass shock and incredulity every time they occur. But, at this point, do they really merit our surprise? Grief and distress, yes; outrage, maybe. But surprise?
The use of military-style automatic weapons to assert the ego is part of the lingua franca of American culture. The shoot-first-ask-questions-later approach dates from well before John Wayne movies, and remains one of the most consistent and familiar traits of our collective personality. The unhinged gunslingers of 2012 are demonstrating something we can no longer pretend we don’t know about ourselves.
The USA is the country with the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world. The second highest is a country with which most Americans would scoff at finding themselves in any kind of comparison: Yemen. Yet Yemen’s gun ownership rate is nowhere near as high as ours. The rate there is only half of what it is here.
James Holmes, the self-styled Joker who shot up that midnight audience, had no trouble copping his weaponry (1). He ordered up his boxes of bullets over the Internet, like so many boxes of printer ink.
As Tom Tomorrow pointed out, Sudafed is more tightly regulated.
Weapons of Mass Destruction
Holmes’ crimes, as well as those of the confused xenophobe at the Sikh temple on August 5, had the result of inspiring other Americans to buy guns for themselves. Apparently this is typical consumer behavior in the USA: high-visibility mass murders trigger massive surges in gun sales. Equally unsurprisingly, the killings inspired a spike in the demand for tighter gun laws. And that demand elicited—again, predictably—the preemptive fury of the NRA crowd, who are wired to start railing against anything that could be construed as an inhibition of gun ownership.
It is ironic that the NRA demographic is probably by and large the same folks who got all frothed up 10 years ago about the (nonexistent) weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein was alleged to possess, an intolerable crime for which they couldn’t wait to lynch the guy. Yet the rapid-fire assault rifles that they’re so afraid will be confiscated from their own gun racks are, quite literally, weapons of mass destruction.
Whether the NRA sees WMDs as being covered by the Second Amendment, I don’t know. Their message is forceful but unclear, muddled as it is by anger and fear—a hybrid that expresses misused Mars (guns) and Neptune (anxiety, confusion), which are square each other in the US natal chart.
Using to their advantage the power of mass emotion, gun lobby spinmeisters have been remarkably successful in equating their arguments with patriotism. A 1991 poll found that most Americans were more familiar with the Second Amendment than they are with the First—the one about freedom of speech.
There are many levels to the USA’s martial karma. Although it is never referred to in the conventional media, there is a relationship between the profligacy with which Uncle Sam arms his citizens and the extravagancy with which he arms the rest of the world.
None of the shocked-and-appalled commentary we heard this summer in the wake of these domestic killings mentioned a word about the avalanche of potential death and destruction manufactured and shipped abroad by Big Armaments—the one industrial bubble that shows no signs of bursting. Indeed, recession or no recession, American arms sales tripled in 2011 to a record high (2).
The taboo nature of this red-blooded American industry makes it a likely candidate for exposure in the years just ahead. Pluto, governor of secrecy and shame, works to transmute uncomfortable truths by purging them, chasing them out of dusty corners so they can be examined in open discussion. Until this challenge is met, America’s unexplored collective violence will continue to fester behind the scenes, breaking out every so often into the front page, with spurts of violence that will be harder and harder to dismiss as aberrations.
(1) There are some dark questions attached to this story, that have arisen on the Internet but are nowhere asked in official reports. Holmes’ father, a senior scientist with the American credit score company FICO, wrote the algorithms that have been linked with the discovery of the LIBOR scandal. It was just when Robert Holmes was getting ready to testify in Washington about Libor that his son went berserk in the orange wig.