There the matter will linger forrnawhile, hi the meantime, it’s questionablernif the laws are any more than feelgoodrnresponses to a soeietal problemrnthat is rapidly getting out of hand. Almostrnhalf of the police officers who patrolrnbeats or work with juveniles in thernstate’s largest city told a pollster that thernPhoenix ordinance was ineffective. Onernthing’s for certain: the killing goes on.rnThis morning, my copy of the ArizonarnRepublic told the pathetic talc of arnTempe father who, in a bit of drunkenrnhorseplay with his 16-year-old son, shotrnthe boy dead with a 9-mm pistol. Thernfather, sitting in a police car, was quotedrnas mumbling, “Oh no, my baby, not myrnbaby.” Such a tragedy might have madernpage one except for one thing: it is gettingrnto be rather common. The reallyrnbig accidental shooting stories are usuallyrnwhen a 5-year-old discharges a shotgunrninto a 3-year-old sister’s face.rnThe public, particularly that segmentrnthat writes letters to the editor and callsrnradio talk shows, is naturally outraged.rnSo besides the parental-permission ordinances,rna host of other well-meaningrnif not well-thought-out proposals havernbeen floated to do something—most notablvrnfor gun-safety programs to bernimplemented in the public schools (arncertain waste of already strained schoolrnresources and probably about as effectivernas condom distribution in stemmingrnteenage pregnancies and the spread ofrnAIDS).rnSad as the aforementioned incidentsrnare, the outrage seems misdirected. Andrnso does the response. Even defendersrnof the parental-permission ordinancesrnadmit that what they are really trying torndo is halt violence among the proliferatingrnnumber of gangs usually found inrnsociologically downseale ethnic neighborhoods.rnThese “gang-bangers,” menchildrenrnwho kill as part of a ritual ofrninitiation or for whatever reason turnsrnthem on, can hardly differentiate a gunrnfrom a spray-paint can: both are used asrnweapons of destruction—push a spraycanrnnozzle and destroy a neighborhoodrnwith graffiti; pull a trigger and destroyrna life.rnAdd these “kids” to the normal assortmentrnof contract killers, drug-runners,rnoutlaw bikers, and general scumrnwho use guns for illegal means and onerncould naturally wonder what in thernworld is accomplished by asking somernteenager on his way hunting or to targetrnpractice wlicther he has written permissionrnfrom Mom and Dad to carry hisrnweapon. I laving become a society thatrnnow accepts that criminals are coddled,rneven in some cases demands that theyrnbe more coddled, we look for relief byrntrying to change behavior—our own,rnthat is.rnGranted, it seems that a parentrnwouldn’t object to giving a child permissionrnto carry that firearm out to thernrifle range. Sensible? Yes. But withoutrnthat slip, the kid and the parent bothrnbecome lawbreakers. Wouldn’t it makernmore sense to write laws that send criminalsrnwho perpetrate firearm-relatedrncrimes to prison for a long time, maybernthrow away the keys? If we really were sornserious about punishing heinous criminalsrnwho torture and murder their victims,rnwouldn’t we quit debating (andrnendlessly appealing) death-penalty casesrnand begin the executions? But Americans,rneven Arizonans, have little tasternor conditioning for such Draconianrnmeasures. So the gang-bangers, whornwouldn’t ask their fathers for writtenrnpermission to carry an Uzi even if theyrnknew who their fathers were, will go onrnterrorizing their neighborhoods. Andrnwc will go on cowering from them.rnI have never owned a gun and neverrnplan to. I have never been hunting and,rndue to a rather big and easily spookedrnLabrador retriever with a loud bark andrnplenty of teeth, I feel safe in my home.rnStill, in a nation fascinated with thernhaute couture of designer laws ratherrnthan blanket justice, it seems that sillyrnslogan—”when guns are outlawed onlyrnoutlaws will have guns”—is on its wayrnto becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.rn—]ames HillrnLIBERAL ARTSrnGREEK SHRIEK ARTrn”What to make of performance artist Diamanda Galas? Her pieces are theatrical assaults.rnHer voice is often piercing (or sometimes droning), beyond what most deemrnlistenable. She’s preoccupied with Greek culture (especially the church), humanrndisorders and AIDS. It’s safe to say that her act isn’t for everyone. Galas socks you inrnthe head and stomach simultaneously with ideas, sounds and visual stimuli. HerrnPlague Mass, a scorching stage missive, intensely dissected societal views of AIDS.rnPart of Galas’ performance entailed her pouring blood over her body while chantingrnchurch litany. Now she’s doing a piece called Vena Cava, which focuses on the virus’srnvictims and the suffering they endure, in particular the related illnesses of depressionrnand dementia. It’s played New York’s experimental theater. The Kitchen, to rousingrnreviews. One writer described the piece as ‘an hour-long mad scene.’ Sounds like Diamandarndares us again.”rn—by Deni Kasrel, in the January 6, J 993, issue of Welcomat.rnMARCH 1993/9rnrnrn