If you have very strong views about the “sanctity” of being able to own as many dangerous weapons as you want, including automatic ones, you should not read this post. You won’t like it. But for the rest of the world watching on, seeing yet another example of the unnecessary carnage that results purely from open access for weapons, listening to the words of comfort, as if this couldn’t have been completely avoided, is too much to bear. The hypocrisy is just too hard to take. What do you mean, “This is a time for unity, not the time to talk politics”? Unity for what?
Yes, this is the worst mass shooting in recent U.S. history – since less than 16 months ago, when 49 people were shot in cold blood in a nightclub in Florida. The headlines should more honestly have read, “The worst mass shooting in recent U.S. history, until next time”.
Yes, this shooter may have used more “sophisticated” automatic weapons, with faster firing speed, than ever before, but the Pulse nightclub shooter still managed to kill 49 people the old-fashioned way.
Yes, as the graphs of the U.S. number of homicides by gun versus all other free democracies in the world show (available in many U.S. and non-U.S. newspapers today), the difference is staggering. And those graphs don’t break down the numbers by category to remind us of the scope: murders, mass-shootings (a “special” kind of murder), suicides, and the accidental gun deaths by guns, such as toddlers accidentally shooting siblings, parents accidentally shooting their children, homeowners “accidentally” shooting people unknown to them who come to their door looking for help, or police shooting innocent people because of the underlying fear that everyone they encounter has a gun. Too many guns. Everyone fearful. A bad combination. And in so many cases, entirely preventable.
I wrote a blog when the Sandy Hook massacre occurred 5 years ago. Twenty children and teachers. Children and teachers. Someone who was known to have been mentally unstable was able to purchase guns. And use them. I foolishly thought at the time that this would be what would make everyone sit up and take notice. Many people thought this; how could it not be the case? It would be the one positive outcome from this tragedy of tragedies. But, heartbreakingly, the pessimists were correct. The most that President Obama was able to get through were strengthened restrictions on people with mental illness, and now that has been removed by a Republican President and Congress. Way to go, people.
The massacre in Las Vegas is being described as a “shooting” by a “crazed” or “demented” shooter. No mention of a domestic terrorist who rained terror down on most of the Strip. The reality was that it was pure terror. My brother happened to be visiting Las Vegas at the time and was one of the thousands who were enjoying themselves at casinos and shows along the Strip. People up and down the Strip were told that there was an “active shooter” on the loose, which of course was the reasonable course of action given the unfolding of the situation. People left their chips on tables, dropped to the floor, and were then whisked off into the night, moving they knew not where as SWAT officers with machine guns indicated that they should run in certain directions. People eventually allowed to return to their hotels hours later, to be greeted once again by SWAT officers with machine guns. This, my friends, is terror. And those weren’t even the people at the concert, in the direct line of fire.
The police and the media are now spending a great deal of time searching for a motive. My guess is that this person, who apparently had plenty of money to gamble with, had some problem associated with gambling, money, and authority. He had his own grievances against either the world in general or a few people in particular. And he had guns. And this, for whatever reason, seemed like a good way to express his grievances. You can change the grievance, the name, and the race or religion, but when someone has a grievance and guns, and lives in a culture where this keeps happening, this becomes a sick but predictable outcome. It happens in churches, in places of former employment, in schools, in nightclubs, you name it. Finding the gunman’s motive is not going to change this or prevent a recurrence.
In addition to its longstanding permissive gun laws, the American people have now democratically elected someone who they knew in advance was a bully. Someone who likes pitting people against each other. Someone who calls out some people and not others. Someone who actually enjoys inciting aggression against opponents. Someone who only looks for win-lose solutions, never win-win. He has insulted people within his own Party, most definitely people outside his own Party, and people – American citizens – of non-white races and non-Christian religions. He has also insulted pretty well all American allies; I cannot think of one allied nation about which he has not used the word “disgusting” or “disgraceful” at the very least. Completely unprovoked. For better or worse, this is the role model for many Americans now, and this is the face of America for the rest of the world. Put the resulting license to be angry and lash out at will together with the free availability of increasingly potent weapons, and you have a recipe for continuing domestic terrorism. Scary stuff. But nobody should be shocked or surprised the next time it happens.
This gun “culture” seems to be one of the defining pillars of American “exceptionalism” now. How sad is that.