Friday, July 24, 2015

Another Mass Shooting, This Time in Louisiana

Yes, it is almost as if we are beginning to expect it these days.

Another mass shooting.

The names of the locations, the faces and names of the shooters and names and numbers of the victims and their families.

Also, different city, county, and state officials reacting.

Otherwise, it is pretty much the same story.

Some disturbed guy (it is almost always a guy) decides to load up on firearms, then goes someplace and empties his gun of bullets, trying to shoot down as many people as possible. Whether it is two high school kids just months away from graduation shooting up their high school in one Denver suburb, or some lone college kid who locks the doors in one building and shoots more people dead than any other school shooting (although it was actually a college - Virginia Tech), or another guy who dyes his hair like the Joker and shooting up a movie theater while the new Batman movie premieres, or some politically minded extremist goes to a political rally, or some lonely kid with a history of mental illness shoots his mother in the morning and then goes to the school that she works in and shoots little kids, or some white supremacist goes to a black church and shoots worshipers there because of the color of their skin, it comes down to some senseless acts of slaughter because one individual snaps and decides to kill en masse.

I ran into an article that suggested that all of the shooters had one thing in common - a certain kind of drug (presumably an antidepressant) either during the time that they went on their mass killing spree, or shortly beforehand. The emphasis that they place is on the mental state of the perpetrator of these crimes, even if the specific focus is on the drugs that they were taking, and how this might have affected their mental state.

Whether that is true or not, and however credible the source of the article linked below may or may not be, there is another question that Americans should be asking themselves right now. That question, simply, is why this keeps happening here in the United States so frequently, and not so much in other industrialized nations.

It has happened in other countries, of course. No one would argue otherwise. But when it has happened in other countries, something is done about it, to prevent similar attacks in the future. When a mass shooting has happened in Australia, Britain, Germany, and other countries, legislation was passed to tighten up gun laws, and the mass shootings were generally not repeated. Making gun access more difficult has led to a lack of such mass shootings in those countries, although in America, where mass shootings seem to be happening every two weeks or so, the reverse logic prevails. People actually believe that what is needed are more guns to fight gun violence. The National Gun Association (NRA) has incredibly strong sway politically, and they enjoy a strong, if extremist, pro-gun population that supports them and loudly proclaims their views. And they win out time and time and time again, as politicians are paranoid to take that one step that would make the most sense: tightening up gun legislation laws to make access to guns at least a little bit more difficult.

The shooting last night at a Louisiana movie theater follows the shooting of four marines last week, which itself followed the shooting in a South Carolina church just weeks ago. We could go further than that, and sometimes these types of incidents would be weeks in between, and sometimes months in between. But there is not much time in between such mass shooting incidents within American borders.

It should be troubling. Yet, a lot of people seem to shrug it off these days, and accept it as a new, if unpleasant, reality. A new normal, if you will, although President Obama, for his part, has suggested that this can never be seen as normal on any level.

That, too, marks a difference between Americans and how people in other countries have responded. This just is not acceptable in other countries, and so they do something about it to make sure that it does not happen again. That is how much it bothers them.

Americans are different in their outlook, however. In this case, it seems the results speak for themselves, too. Because no one really expects this kind of mass shooting to end with the most recent episode last night.

I knew a woman who met a mass shooter. She met him for business, and he invited her to either his office or home, I cannot remember which. But she did say that he had a room full of guns, and that it creeped her out. She was not actually all that surprised when he went on a killing spree sometime in the future.

Not two hours drive from where I live, there was the worst school shooting in history (excluding the college shooting in Virginia) just a few years ago. My own son attends school, and I would be lying if there is not a little bit of worry about this kind of gun violence being so commonplace. It might not be the primary concern. I try to get him focused on doing well in school, and I certainly worry about the future for him. But the fact that this gun violence runs rampant in the United States is on the radar screen as something that worries me, however remote that possibility might seem.

There will be some discussion, surely, about how to curb this kind of gun violence, following these most recent episodes. But we have seen this kind of thing before, and the reaction is predictable. On my Facebook page, some people will post a militant and blanket defense of gun rights, and probably some vague reference to Obama coming for your guns. Perhaps even some reminders that Hitler and the Nazis passed tight gun legislation as well, just before the Holocaust (as if that were the only reason for the Holocaust). Maybe some reminders that you are very unlikely, statistically speaking, to die a victim of such mass shootings, and that you are more likely to die from being struck by lightning, or some such thing. And in the end, nothing is likely to change.

And truth be told, I do not know at this point what it would take for this debate to change. More random shootings, perhaps with less time spaced in between? More victims? Perhaps a mass shooting at an NRA rally of some sort or another?

Who knows? But for now, perhaps the most damning proof that our distinctive American perspective simply is not working is that we all expect for this debate to be raised again, after yet another mass shooting episode grabs headlines. The rest of the world will be scratching their heads, while too many Americans will just simply shrug it off as the new normal.

Nearly Every Mass Shooting In The Last 20 Years Shares One Thing In Common, And It Isn’t Weapons:

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