CNN has just announced that this weekend saw nine mass shootings in six states leaving 10 dead and 50 injured.
In addition, the Washington Post just published the following grim statistics, including the headline, “2020 was the deadliest gun violence year in decades. So far, 2021 is worse”:
• Through the first five months of 2021, gunfire killed more than 8,100 people in the United States, about 54 lives lost per day…That’s 14 more deaths per day than the average toll during the same period of the previous six years.
• This year, the number of casualties, along with the overall number of shootings that have killed or injured at least one person, exceeds those of the first five months of 2020, which finished as the deadliest year of gun violence in at least two decades.
• In January and February of 2021, people bought more guns than they did during either month of any previous year in which such purchases were recorded. In January alone, about 2.5 million guns were sold, the third-highest one-month total, behind only June and July of 2020.
• Early numbers indicate a large slice of 2020 gun buyers — about a fifth — purchased their first-ever firearm.
• Nationally, gun sales per 1,000 people began to climb in spring 2020, peaking in June.
• Gun deaths per 1 million people followed a similar trend.
Read more HERE
On August 1, 1966, 25-year-old ex-marine sharpshooter Charles Whitman climbed to the top of the 307-foot-tall University of Texas Tower in Austin, Texas, armed with three rifles, two pistols, and a sawed-off shotgun and began shooting at people below. When it was all over, 96 minutes later, he had shot 47 innocents, seventeen of whom died.
While there had been several mass public killings before, the tragedy gave Austin, Texas, the dubious honor of having “introduced the nation to the idea of mass murder in a public space.”
Without dwelling on the differences between a “mass murder” and a “mass shooting,” or even on the various definitions of “mass shooting,” the stark reality is that, whatever the definition, mass shootings are macabre “events” that occur hundreds of times each year killing too many Americans and have become “events” that are becoming each year more commonplace, frequent and, sadly, more predictable. To some, the “new normal.”
So far this year, there have been more than 260 mass shootings in America.
The Wall Street Journal calls the “string of mass shootings” over the past three months, “one of the worst on record…”
During the last 24 hours alone (as of this writing) there have been four “mass shootings” in the U.S. killing at least two and injuring at least 34 more.
One of those mass shootings happened early this morning, once again, in Austin, Texas, injuring at least 13 persons – two critically.
The shootings have become so repetitive, so déjà vu, so mind-numbing that it seems to many of us that we are trapped in the 1993 film, “Groundhog Day,” where we must relive the same tragedy over and over again.
They have become so predictable and, yes, so “almost routine” that they now evoke the same humdrum, jaded responses from many Americans, including politicians and the media.
After the May 26 mass shooting in San Jose, Ca., that took the lives of nine men, California Governor Gavin Newsom perhaps pointed best to the insaneness and groundhog-day-nature of our society’s reaction to such mass shootings. “There’s a numbness some of us are feeling about this. There’s a sameness to this…It begs the damn question of what the hell is going on in the United States of America?”
As predictable as the sun will come up or go down on the crime scene, we can count on the initial cries of shock and horror, offers of “thoughts and prayers,” and vows – by some — to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
Most presidents – but not all — will order the American flag to be flown at half-mast and offer their support and condolences to the victims and their families.
Politicians will express sorrow and concern, or just remain silent.
The media will herald the tragedy in bold, breaking news banners while national television will show the drama unfolding “live in a terrifying, chyron-ed frenzy.”
Americans will once again react with disbelief and revulsion – but also with exhaustion, pessimism and cynicism — at yet another carnage in America.
After the perfunctory promises of “doing everything in our power to prevent another such mass shooting” and after the false warnings that “Democrats are trying to take your guns away,” everything goes back to “normal” relatively quickly, until the next bloody American Groundhog Day.
It has become so predictable, so “American,” that a standard “fill-in-the-blanks” news release, buried somewhere deep inside the bowels of the news medium, could be used.
It could look something like this:
Another Mass Shooting
A mass shooting in (place) on (date) took the lives of (number) individuals and injured (number.)
As usual, thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.
Senator (name), (D) from (state), calls on Congress to redouble its efforts to pass gun reform legislation that will keep Americans safe.
Senator (name), (R) from (state) warns that gun control will only make such massacres worse, because only the bad guys will have guns.
Representative (name) (D) from (state) says that now is exactly the right time to discuss legislation to prevent recurrences.
Representative (name) (R) from (state) says now is not the time to attack the Second Amendment or to speak ill of guns. There will be a time for such a conversation but now is not the time.
Gun advocates claim gun control will do nothing to prevent the next attack. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” they say.
And so, it goes
Back in Austin, Mayor Steve Adler lamented the shooting in his city as “part of a disturbing rise in gun violence across the country as we exit the pandemic…” adding, “One thing is clear – greater access to firearms does not equal greater public safety.”
No “thoughts and prayers” yet from Texas governor Greg Abbott on the mass shooting. However, the governor has indicated he will soon sign the Constitutional Carry bill (HB 1927) that will allow those who can legally own a handgun to carry it, open or concealed, without a permit in the Great State of Texas.
And so it goes.
The “standard, fill-in-the-blanks news release format” is not intended to be humorous, nor satirical. Our mass shootings problem is too serious to be caricatured.
On the contrary, the “format” and this article are intended to illustrate the insanity of how our leaders witness the same national tragedy repeated over and over again, how they offer the same thoughts and prayers over and over again and yet expect – as the famous saying goes – “a different result.”
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.