In America, some things just don’t change.
A month ago, I wrote about U.S. leaders’ unwillingness to lessen gun carnage in our nation. It was a day or two after 58 fellow citizens were killed and more than 500 injured at a country music festival in Las Vegas.
Today, this column comes about 72 hours after yet another mass shooting, this time in a rural Texas church where 26 were murdered. And yet again, neither Congress nor the White House, wholly owned subsidiaries of the National Rifle Association, will lift a guilty finger to do anything in response – except, of course, to send “thoughts and prayers” to the community and the families.
I find myself a little more upset than normal because I recently discovered I work at the same company as a man, Brody Harris, who was standing in the crowd in Las Vegas when the shooting began. He was with his wife, his sister and his sister’s fiancé. They all made it out alive.
I interviewed Brody over lunch at the company cafeteria and wrote about his Las Vegas nightmare for the company newsletter. He told me the bullets fired from the Mandalay Bay hotel struck the vendor booths where he and his wife crouched behind boxes of cowboy boots. The rounds skipped and sparked off the pavement around them, and whizzed through the air next to their heads as they scrambled for safety.
Of course, the bullets also struck people near them. Lots of people. The wounded and dead were on the ground, blood pooling. People helped strangers to safety, applied tourniquets to limbs, carried gravely injured concertgoers on makeshift stretchers.
All because a homicidal lunatic was able to buy a bunch of weapons designed to fire lots of rounds very quickly.
It was much the same with this week’s Texas killer: The guns that enable shooters to cause so much harm are readily available for almost anyone to purchase – even someone who shouldn’t have been able to buy them because of his military court martial and conviction for abusing his wife and infant stepson.
When are we going to be honest enough to admit one of the chief reasons for so much death at the hands of mass killers is the wide availability of firearms in this country? Yes, the issues of mental health and inadequate screening prior to purchases of these instruments of catastrophe are reasons, too. Even so, let’s tell it like it is: Firearms are for sale everywhere.
Given all those guns floating around, being sold in stores, at gun shows, on the Internet, between friends and family, the murderous wackos find it easy to obtain them.
I know what most of my fellow Utahns think about the Second Amendment: It’s either God-inspired or necessary to stop federal troops from invading our communities – or both. You see them just like I do:
• Bumper stickers with idiotic slogans – “If you can’t stand behind our troops feel free to stand in front of them,” with an image of a kneeling soldier taking aim.
• Self-styled open-carry “patriots” with firearms on their hips at the gas station or convenience store.
There would be another civil war if the United States attempted to do what Australia did following a few terrible mass shootings in the 1980s and ’90s: The country’s National Firearms Agreement has resulted in zero mass shootings since 1996. The NFA requires all firearm ownership to be licensed according to a “genuine reason” for ownership and the guns are registered with the government. The law also bans semiautomatic rifles and shotguns, and created a government program to buy the banned weapons.
As for the United States, the NRA and makers of semiautomatic firearms have won. Americans have lost, because these mass murders will continue. Someday you, too, may know someone at the scene during one of these monstrous acts of violence perpetrated with a gun, or guns. Will it soften your position on the sanctity of the Second Amendment?
At this point, I don’t believe it matters to most Americans. The weapons will continue to be made and sold, and they will continue to be used to slay Americans of all ages. Congress and the White House won’t do a thing to stop it. There’s too much money at stake and too many gun fanatics in the voter base.
By now, we all know this to be true: It’s more important to be elected and re-elected than to save lives.
You can email Don at email@example.com. Twitter: @DonPondorter.