“477 Days. 521 Mass Shootings. Zero Action From Congress.”
“June 12 2016
A gunman opens fire in an Orlando nightclub, leaving 49 dead and many wounded. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history – until Sunday.”
A note defines a mass shooting:
“Four or more people injured or killed in a single event at the same time and the same location” according to the Gun Violence Archive
Yesterday’s New York Times, dominated by headlines about the Las Vegas shootings, published in its op-ed section two short pieces, both carrying the same message. The first, by Steve Israel, a member of the House of Representatives since 2001, is “Nothing Will Change After the Las Vegas Shooting.”
And in an essay called “In Las Vegas, We Take Care of People,” columnist Brittany Bronson writes:
“Those of us who live here know Nevada is an open-carry state with a Wild West past of loose gun laws and regulations. It’s where a Las Vegas city councilwoman’s Christmas card featured a picture of her family members, including a child, fully armed, and where a tourist can visit one of many machine-gun ranges and try out a semiautomatic weapon of the kind the killer may have used.
As per usual, state and federal politicians are sending their thoughts and prayers. Although heartfelt, they provide very little comfort or practical use if they aren’t followed by action.”
On “The Daily Show,” the day after the shootings in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, Jon Stewart said among many wise and despairing things:
“We are already hearing the nuanced language of lack of effort.”
“We have to peer into the abyss of depraved violence that we do to each other in the nexus of a gaping racial wound that will not heal. . .and we still won’t do jack shit. That’s us.”
We read the headlines, we look at the photographs from the scene of the latest American carnage, we lower the flags, we grieve. Our leaders, more or less believably, call for a day of mourning, call for prayers for the families of the slain, denounce one more instance of a crazed gunman inexplicably opening fire on a crowd, a madman, a loner, not normal, above all else–Not Us. Our pundits, our respected journalists, even some of our elected officials, call for action, for tighter regulations on the sale and use of guns.
The voices of lobbyists are ready with their familiar chant,
“Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”
And the apparently unassailable argument that criminals are armed and law-abiding citizens need to be armed to defend against them.
The National Rifle Association is, arguably, the most powerful group of lobbyists in a country that was settled by the violence of genocide; nurtured by the violence of slavery, romanced with the violence of cowboys and mobsters, and is economically maintained more every year by the violence of poverty.
For some reason, I have spent the last hour sitting with my laptop running the battery out watching videos on YouTube: Bruce Springsteen in concerts and interviews; Jon Stewart’s introduction of his friend the year Springsteen was honored at the Kennedy Center Awards, a ceremony at which Springsteen and his wife, Patti Scialfa, sat with Barack and Michelle Obama.
I watched Joan Baez singing “We Shall Overcome” at the Obama White House.
I report this, I think, for no better reason than that I am sad.
A meme on Facebook a year or so ago, featured a large photograph of John Wayne. The caption read,
“Life is hard. It’s harder if you’re stupid.”
I hope we can decide not to be stupid this time around.