“Just another day in the United States of America.” — The BBC on the California mass shooting.
The phrase strikes at the heart of the matter.
Yet there’s no shaming America into change, no matter how many innocents die in acts of widespread gun violence or how tragic and heinous the circumstances. San Bernardino’s was the 355th mass shooting this year. That’s not a misprint. It’s the number of actual shootings in the U.S. this year involving four victims or more.
We thought the insanity couldn’t get crueler than shooting up a roomful of first-graders in a quintessential New England town. How about new parents of a 6-month-old shooting up a roomful of people with disabilities and health workers celebrating Christmas?
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If only the somber BBC coverage of this week’s mayhem in California could shame us into less talk and more action conducive to changing our laws and our culture from constitutional gun idolatry to realistic and imperative gun-control.
We do nothing to curb the easy access to weapons of war — and the next perpetrator is free to step it up somewhere else.
“Now, it doesn’t seem to matter where you live,” laments Charlotte Hartford of Fort Lauderdale, who was born in Redlands, California. That’s where the San Bernardino killer couple lived and amassed assault weapons and handguns — all legally purchased — and died in a hail of police gunfire.
Once, she says, Redlands was “a sleepy little town of orange groves and spectacular mountain views and very nice people who didn’t have to fear for their lives. Our country has lost its mind to its passionate love affair with guns and all things violent. What happened? The weakness of those in power who kowtow to the lobbyists demonstrates just how little we, the people, are valued by those who are supposed to represent us.”
The reaction to another mass killing has been a predictable, well-calibrated automatic drill of worn-out clichés. “Our hearts go out to the victims.” The Republican leadership evokes prayers. The president’s face denotes disgust and frustration.
If only the New York Daily News’ bold front page following the slaughter — headlining in huge bold letters “God Isn’t Fixing This” — could provoke profound and effective soul-searching.
If only we weren’t so arrogant as to think we have nothing to learn from countries that have curbed gun violence like Australia and Japan.
If only we didn’t shoot from the hip with statements short on facts and dismissive of the destructive power of guns.
“I don’t think it’s about more gun control,” actor Samuel L. Jackson said after the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, his words resurrected in a meme post-San Bernardino. “I grew up in the South with guns everywhere and we never shot anyone. This [shooting] is about people who aren’t taught the value of life.”
Jackson must have forgotten the well-documented legacy of violence in the South, not to mention that killers take away lives precisely because they know their value.
A civilized society can’t stand by and do nothing but talk in circles. If we can’t find a way to keep assault weaponry from the angry, the insane, the vindictive, the criminals and home-based terrorists to prevent wholesale tragedy, then what?
Just another day in the United States of America, a misnamed country divided by the worship of the Second Amendment.