(Note: I wrote this after the Gilroy shooting. There have already been others.)
We are in that horrific news cycle again that starts with early reports of a mass shooting. Slowly the numbers leak out. Three dead, twelve injured in this one. Numbers are supposed to quantify the event. They compare to the others. There have been a lot of others.
Next we look to get a name and photo of the shooter. If it were a person with an Arabic-sounding name, then it’s obviously a terrorist. White guy? Oh, that’s different. This one said that he’s Italian-Iranian in social media. Iranian. There it is. We ignore that his name is William, a decidedly un-Iranian name.
Since he’s not a terrorist, we now get his back story. He’s a loner. Kept to himself. Here’s his yearbook photo, in a tux. Seems like a nice enough kid. They say he posted stuff to social media from a book that white supremacists cite. Oh, them. Distasteful bunch from our past. Not terrorists, though. They’re Americans.
Soon after, ages and then names of the victims are released. That’s terrible, we tell ourselves, as we internally judge which deaths are more tragic than the others. By the time the photos come out, the news cycle has already moved on to something else. Likely something that the President said.
America is now known world wide for mass shootings. Our leaders are known as too cowardly to make hard decisions about those types of weapons. Refer to them as “AK-47 type”, or use their actual letters and numbers. It doesn’t matter, really. It’s the weapon used by a shooter who has a beef about something enough to do the unimaginable. A weapon that puts their thoughts into deeds with deadly efficiency.
Can we even call it unimaginable anymore? It’s imaginable now, because it keeps happening. It’s becoming normal, and that is the greater tragedy. How did the loved ones of those shot at Gilroy act to shootings before this event? People see things differently when it affects them directly.
Some still demand from their elected representatives that changes be made to gun laws. The shooter couldn’t get the gun he wanted in California. He went online instead to order the gun from a store in Nevada, and happily picked it up. Then he shot people at random.
Most people hardly react anymore. Maybe it’s mentioned in passing to someone. Yeah, that’s terrible. Enough politicians were rightly ridiculed for the canned “thoughts and prayers” statements. They don’t do that anymore. They don’t do anything.
What would have to happen to make the needed changes? Changes that New Zealand made after Christchurch. None of these lives have been valuable enough to force change. The kids in Florida had traction for a while, but that has long since faded.
Some of the parents of children lost at Sandy Hook are holding a radio personality responsible for the ill-conceived hate that he manufactured and spread. About time.
Those who loved the fallen now get to live with that reality. The loss of their loved one isn’t enough to make the changes. Collectively, ALL of those loved ones now lost aren’t somehow enough.
We will hear from the anti-gun side. We will hear from the Second Amendment side. They didn’t have these kinds of guns back two hundred plus years ago, though. Getting rid of these guns is a slippery slope to losing all of “our guns”.
Pot was a gateway drug to far worse drugs, they used to say.
It is clear what needs to be done. The rest of the civilized world sees it. We are shameful for not doing it yet. If we had, this latest tragedy likely would have been prevented. People would not have been shot. Lives would not have been lost.
This tragedy adds to the larger tragedy. Our leaders are failing us by refusing to enact legislation to stop these shootings. That is the hardest tragedy to explain away.
Yes, people would still find illegal means of obtaining these weapons. At least we’d be making it difficult on them, instead of letting them shop on a website from their own home. Convenient payment options, too. And an image slide show on top, showing off some impressive weaponry on sale.
Two days later, the news cycle is almost over. It wasn’t even on the main page at Google News today. More stuff that the President said supplanted it.
People are still in the hospital. The dead not yet buried. The story is, though.
Until the next shooting, when we start again. A bit less shock. A bit more numb. It will happen again. It’s almost inevitable.