There has been another shooting.
I could have opened a blog post with that sentence any day in the past year and not been wrong. The only difference is in the details– the venue, the magnitude, the motive if any was known; the race of the shooter. Race ought not to make a difference, but tragically in this country it will determine the manner in which everyone reports on the mass shooting and demands that we do nothing about it. When black people commit acts of gun violence, they’re said to be ungrateful thugs who lack family structure. When tan people do it, they’re radical Muslims and we need tighter immigration laws. When white people shoot people, we shake our heads and wonder how this could ever happen, then eventually settle on mental illness or the medicines used to treat it. Mental illness doesn’t often make white people commit mass shootings in England, Canada or Germany, even though people struggling with their mental health in those countries suffer the same afflictions and take the same treatments (often in lower doses). But in America, if a white person commits a mass shooting, you can be sure that we’ll all blame mental illness, and do nothing.
This week’s mass shooting was at a Baptist church service in Sutherland, Texas. We’re getting reports of “multiple deaths” including some children; the Daily Mail says it’s twenty-seven deaths, including the pastor’s teenage daughter. Other news outlets are declining to say how many are dead. By the time you read this, the number of dead may be definitely known. I pray it’s lower than twenty-seven. I pray there are no children among the dead. I pray there are no mothers or fathers. I pray it’s all a terrible hoax and no one in that church is dead at all, but I know that’s not true.
As I write this, we’re still waiting for the police to release any information about the shooter, so we’ll know if people will be ranting tomorrow about thugs, immigration or mental illness before they decide to do nothing. By the time you read this, you’ll probably know.
It’s all so typical, so routine, I could change that paragraph above the last one but keep the rest of this blog post exactly the same and re-publish it every week, and never be wrong.
I want to remind everyone that this in no way ought to be normal.
This should never be routine.
This does not happen in any other civilized country.
You can talk all you want about the horrors of “inner city” Chicago, or how we have to have guns to protect ourselves from a tyrannical government. But the fact is, the people who live in Canada are not oppressed victims of a cruel dictatorship, nor does the whole country resemble a conservative’s idea of what Chicago looks like. The same is true for Australia and most of the countries in Europe. You can lecture me about increasing terrorist attacks in Europe, and I know that deaths from terrorism in Europe are on the rise, but the fact is that the annual deaths from all the acts of terrorism in Europe number in the hundreds, while guns as a whole kill over thirty thousand Americans per year. Our choices are not between dictatorship and stockpiling guns, or between a shocking lack of gun control and a nightmare caricature of terrorism and gang violence. It has been demonstrated, in real life, with real people, all over the world, that it doesn’t work that way.
You can tell me you have a right to self-defense, and you do. But that doesn’t change the fact that having access to a gun actually makes you more likely to be a victim of gun violence.
You can patronize me about the Constitution and second-amendment rights, but the fact is that the Constitution is not a divinely inspired document. It can be changed; it has been changed twenty-seven times in America’s short history. The second amendment itself was a change to the Constitution. And the Constitution of the United States is not more valuable or sacred than any human being’s right to life. Your right to feel safe does not take priority over anyone else’s right to live– especially considering that there’s plenty of evidence the gun won’t make you safer.
Mass shootings are not normal– yet they are. They are commonplace. They are, because we as a country have chosen to allow them to be. We could choose differently. We could choose to take steps to make them stop.
We must choose differently.
I say this, even though I know full well that we won’t.
I know that I will write an article painfully similar to this one again, the next time a mass shooting happens, and the time after that.
This is what Americans have chosen to be our normal, everyday state of things.
There has been another shooting.
(image via Pixabay)