Another week, another series of senseless gun crimes in America, one particularly gruesome one a little too close to home.
I’ve harped on this issue before, right here in these very pages. Not long ago I wrote a column that merely listed the names of all the victims of some of the more bloody mass shootings — Newtown, Aurora, Virginia Tech.
The victims numbered in the double digits in those cases. But just because there weren’t more mass casualties in Santa Barbara a few weeks ago, or more dead high school students in Troutdale, Ore., on Tuesday, or a Las Vegas Walmart full of discounts and dead bodies on Sunday, doesn’t make the latest fit of high-profile gun violence any less horrific.
America needs to wake up!
Seventy-four school shootings have occurred since Newtown, the 2012 mass killing that took the precious lives of 20 first-graders. Think about that for a second — 74 at American schools in two years.
The bloodletting has not abated. The fetishization of killing in America has not been staunched.
It is an abomination of epic proportions and our political leaders are apparently ill-equipped to handle it. As a country, as a nation of free people, as a first-world community, we are apparently not up to the task. We are failing our country, our children and ourselves.
I partly blame the cultural and political toe-hold of right-wing extremism in America. That coupled by the apparent failure of parents, schools, medical professionals and law enforcement to keep mentally handicapped people from accessing the torrent of weapons in this country is to blame for most of this as well.
On Tuesday, a 15-year-old high school freshman in Oregon walked into his school with an assault rifle, a handgun and multiple magazines with bullets. He was prepared to kill a lot of people. He killed a classmate in the gym as students were going into their first period and then he killed himself. It was the day before the last day of school. Victim Emilio Hoffman, 14, was going to become a sophomore in the fall. Instead, he’s a corpse, prepped for burial by a devastated family.
In Las Vegas on Sunday, two whack-jobs, one a twice-convicted felon, walked up to two Metro cops eating lunch and assassinated them, laying upon their dead bodies a revolutionary war flag and a political manifesto with a swastika on it. The two then walked to a nearby Walmart where they killed a man named Joseph Wilcox, a would-be hero turned corpse because instead of running for cover he pulled his own concealed weapon on one of the cop-killers to no avail.
The dead police officers, Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo, will have their names etched in stone memorials, but that will offer little comfort to their families, to their children, who will now grow up victims of violence themselves.
Before all this there was Santa Barbara. A mentally ill college student purchased three handguns and 400 rounds of ammo, and despite his parents’ multiple warnings and contact with law enforcement, was able to kill six people before shooting himself. And before that, also last week, there was Seattle, where a mentally deranged man off his meds walked onto a small college campus and killed one student and injured another. A journal found in the suspect’s truck included passages praising the Virginia Tech shooter and Columbine killers.
Mass killing as cultural phenomenon threatens to send America into a death spiral.
Emergency gun control legislation should be passed immediately. Gun and ammo sales in this country should be temporarily halted. A national dialogue must commence today between families of violence victims, leaders and gun lobbyists and their clients.
It’s not so much that I advocate banning anything. As I’ve said many times, there needs to be a new framework of control in place to prevent crazy people from accessing weapons. Because what’s in place today is clearly not working. And for all you gun rights folks who advocate civil war to protect your right to buy an AR-15 and hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammo, you are part of the problem. Your selfishness, your affliction, your addiction is killing your fellow countrymen in droves every single day.
You are no patriot. You are a bacterial infection in the heart of America. You need to come to the table as an adult, not some child crying to protect play time with toys of death and devastation.
Furthermore, your obstinence on this issue invites tyranny. Your inability to compromise will be the undoing of the right to bear arms in this country. Because at some point, enough will be enough and blood will follow blood. And where will all your rights be then?
Let’s have an adult discussion. Let’s work to institute new national gun ownership protocols that include mandatory training for would-be owners, mandatory mental health screenings, mandatory insurance similar to car insurance, and whatever smart solutions we can collectively agree upon that will help solve this national horror.
Wake up America! Now, before it’s too late.