Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

May 31, 2014

Guns, massacres, and the masses

The massacre after Newtown, and the one before Santa Barbara, perpetrated at the Navy Yard last September, prompted me to write this:

“The Navy Yard shootings that left 13 dead just leaves me ... uncomfortably numb. It appears that at this point in American history, this is a fact of life and something we have to live with or die by. The shadowy, sulking loner emerges into the public space, blasting away at the innocents who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mayors and chiefs tabulate the victims and the perps, open the triage and call out SWAT. The surgeons do pressers. The families mourn and express dismay. The mugshot reveals that crazed look. Gabrielle renews her outrage. Newtown and Colombine are invoked. We observe the moment of silence at the stadium. The NRA hunkers down. Congress is paralyzed to provide any response or adjustment. It seems as if we’re transfixed into rote response and in doing so, a slice of the American dream dies.”

The massacre at the University of California at Santa Barbara combined an array of lethal weaponry, from guns, to knives, to an automobile. And it stoked familiar debates.

Chris Cillizza, writing on his Washington Post blog, reacted to the outrage of Richard Martinez, who lost his only son: “It almost certainly won’t be that galvanizing moment. In the same way that the attempted assassination of then-Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords wasn’t. In the same way the deaths of 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut, wasn’t. (In fact, since Newtown, more states have loosened gun laws than have tightened them.) For those who oppose tighter gun laws, it is an absolute passion and oftentimes the single most important issue on which they make decisions about which candidates to support.”

For the sake of stoking an earnest debate, another columnist - Cliff Schecter of the Daily Beast - began poking holes in some of the most oft repeated assumptions. Here are some of his points:

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