Discussion today at my house: Do you remember when Columbine happened and it was so horrifying and nothing like that had happened in our society in our time - not on that scale - and we were obsessed with finding out the whys and the whos and the details? We spoke the names of the individual dead, because their stories were everywhere. We were full of sorrow because it was just SO HORRIBLE. We wanted to know and understand every morsel of information, tease out every possible motive or meaning. Flash forward to today - when the radio reporter is discussing past shootings and I think: Oh yeah, that guy in the Colorado movie theatre - he shot like 80 people. That one actually slipped my mind.
Oh - and don't forget the Tucson shooting... that guy shot 20 people and nearly killed a member of our House of Representatives. At Virginia Tech over 30 people died. How did that one fall so far back in my memory? It's in there - it just didn't jump to mind right away.
Because there have been SO MANY mass shootings. I couldn't even name them all, even if I spent an hour trying. I looked it up: the FBI says there have been (on average) 16.4 "active shooting" incidents per year, over the last 7 years. Active shooting incidents are defined by federal agencies as "an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area."
This country has had an incredible number of opportunities to have real conversations about this and we don't and/or won't. We don't take the conversation seriously. Today President Obama said, "I’ve had to make statements like this too many times. Communities like this have had to endure tragedies like this too many times." He's right. He's had to make 6 such speeches in the past 6 years.
I wish I thought we were going to take the conversation seriously this time. I wish there hadn't been a "this time". But I don't think we are capable of having a conversation in this country where we talk about the hard things without pointing fingers and throwing political jabs. If we couldn't bear to make changes when 27 people - 18 CHILDREN - died in Newton, Connecticut, why in the world would we change anything now?
In most mass shooting cases, the guns were obtained legally. In not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun. Again: In not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun.
Real people died yesterday in Charleston, not political pawns. Real people died at Columbine, in Aurora, Colorado, at Sandy Hook Elementary School, at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, at Virginia Polytech, Santa Monica College, the Washington Navy Yard, at Fort Hood. We don't forget them; but we do let the incidents slide ever so gently into the back of our minds until the next time. And the next.
Someone prove me wrong about this and demand a real accounting, real change. We're talking about domestic terrorism here. Stand up and scream about this with me. Otherwise, we will just be recalling how truly horrifying this incident was next time innocent people are murdered.
How many more?