Here we are again. Talking about yet another mass shooting. Ho hum. Just another day in the United States, I guess.
Before the midterm election, Trump couldn’t stop talking about the “dangerous” caravan currently traveling through Mexico, presenting it as if it was the single greatest threat to our safety in the United States (but since the election, he’s been completely silent about it). Yet not once did he mention the single greatest security threat to our safety in the United States: homegrown gun violence.
The 2nd Amendment was ratified in 1791 – just 3 years after the Constitution was ratified. The US had just come out of a war and likely carried paranoia surrounding a possible invasion, more wars, possibly a tyrannical government, and an inherent need for personal protection in a very young country.
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Try to place yourself in that time. In 1791, the population of the United States was about half the current population of Long Island, New York. The average person lived to around the ripe old age of 35. You died from dysentery a lot. There were only fourteen states. You didn’t have indoor plumbing (yikes). Toilet paper did not exist (DOUBLE YIKES). You didn’t have electricity (or a phone, for that matter).
At that time, writing laws that perfectly predicted what would happen as the country evolved over the next 250+ years was an almost impossible task. After all, can you even imagine what the country – and the world – will look like 200 or so years from now?
The authors of the Constitution did a pretty great job, though. Yes, there were a few shortfalls in the original version of the Constitution, however the biggest ones were fixed by the Bill of Rights, the 13th, and the 19th amendments.
But back then, you also didn’t have high-capacity semiautomatic rifles. If you had a gun and walked into a synagogue, a yoga studio (… or something similar), or a bar in 1791, you’d be able to get off about 2-4 shots a minute. You wouldn’t be able to walk into a bar with a handgun that has an extended magazine and murder 12 people.
We just had the worst mass shooting… In a week.
It was the 307th mass shooting this year (today is the 312th day of this year, too). This is our new normal. We consider ourselves to be better than the rest of the world, yet we have more gun violence per capita than any other developed country in the world.
I watched videos of the shooting last night. I heard the gunshots. But I didn’t hear people screaming, because we as a society now know that in an active shooter situation, you don’t scream because that draws extra attention to you. You get down, and look for ways to get out as quickly as possible. You can watch one of the videos yourself, but I must warn you that it’s extremely disturbing.
I also watched video of a father who just learned his child was murdered in the shooting. I bawled. And I just sat for at least 15 minutes, unable to do anything.
I think every member of Congress should be forced to watch this pic.twitter.com/rK8iAs3eBm
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) November 9, 2018
We can do better. We have to do better. But all our legislators care to do is offer thoughts and prayers. Thoughts and prayers are demonstrably not the answer. If thinking or praying helped in any way, we wouldn’t keep having the same conversation and the same, tired responses from our legislators. Thoughts and prayers have the same effect as the control group in this experiment: nothing.
Hell, the shooter from last night allegedly said as much himself. CNN reported that the final Facebook post the shooter made, just before he opened fire, was:
Authorities have identified a Facebook post believed to have been made by the shooter around the time of the attack, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the ongoing investigation.
In it, the writer says: “I hope people call me insane… (laughing emojis).. wouldn’t that just be a big ball of irony? Yeah.. I’m insane, but the only thing you people do after these shootings is ‘hopes and prayers’.. or ‘keep you in my thoughts’… every time… and wonder why these keep happening…”
When CNN read the post to a friend of Long’s, who did not want to be publicly identified, the friend said, “That does not sound like Ian to me at all. I don’t know what was going through his head when he wrote this. It must have been terrible.”
I used to say that I don’t think we need to repeal the 2nd Amendment. I used to think that we just needed better gun legislation. But I don’t know anymore. As common as mass shootings are, as often as I’m seeing grieving parents talk about the last time they spoke to their kids before they were murdered on TV, the more it feels like only a matter of time before one of my friends or family members are murdered in a mass shooting.
Because there will be another one, and it will happen very soon.