My Turn: Mass shootings becoming a way of American life

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By Tom Kirvan
Legal News Editor-In-Chief

As I drove through one rural town after another recently en route to a funeral, I was struck by the number of bumper stickers bearing the message “God, Guns, and Guts Made America Free.”

It was a discomforting message, especially for God, who undoubtedly isn’t too keen on being lumped in with a gun-toting crowd. But there it was, being brandished about on car after car, pickup after pickup.

A more descriptive message would be that “We Make Killing Too Easy.”

It’s a quote dug from the depths of a presidential assassination, but the profound nature of the statement is perhaps too difficult to digest in the aftermath of the most recent mass killing, this time in the college town of Boulder, Colo.

If anything is to be gained from yet another stab at innocent Americans, it is perhaps a discomforting opportunity to learn history’s lesson.

The U.S. has a violent past. The American Revolution, the Civil War, the frontier, racial lynchings, Columbine, Oklahoma City, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Charleston, Orlando, Las Vegas, Atlanta, and now Boulder. Shootings and terrorist attacks are not new forms of political expression, but instead have a puzzling and unsettling past.

Until 9/11, most acts of terrorism have been in distant outposts from strange-sounding places around the globe. Distance has served as a disquieting buffer from those who have continuingly threatened to bring the war to American shores.

Now, in some tragic form or another, the threat has become horrifyingly real, randomly striking at the heart of our everyday existence.

While the U.S. has enjoyed a measure of political stability unlike a growing number of nations around the world, no longer can we minimize the danger of terrorism and inexplicable mass shootings to American institutions or to gloss over the cause of violent expression. In a sense, the level of violence is an index of society’s ability to cope with its problems, meet the demands of its people, and ensure its own survival.

Violence, and the fear of it, now poses threats to the basic quality of life for every American. For some, the routine of everyday life may be so disrupted that it will be difficult to distinguish between the real and imagined.

The shock of a Halloween day truck attack in New York in 2017, reportedly an ISIS-inspired terror plot, was still fresh on our minds when suddenly a small church in Sutherland Springs, Texas became the unexpected center of the 24/7 news cycle.

There, 26 worshipers lost their lives in a bloody rampage by a deranged killer whose history of mindless violence should have
sent red flags waving all across the Lone Star State.

Instead, we are left to wonder how an Air Force vet who was court-martialed for beating his wife and child could walk into a gun shop and somehow obtain an assault rifle and other weapons. Clearly it is because the nation’s gun control laws are so weak and ineffective that they might as well have been riddled by an AK-47, the Russian-born assault rifle that has been the weapon of choice in many bloodbaths.

Now, as we grow numb to news of another senseless slaughter, it’s time for Congress to reevaluate its all-too-cozy relationship with the National Rifle Association, whose idea of gun control is “using two hands” on whatever the weapon. Such political sway by the gun lobby only serves to place us all in the crosshairs of the next hell-bent killer.

God forbid.

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