Another American tragedy
What's wrong with us? Why does this happen here so often?
Fifty nine killed, 527 injured. My God.
There has been a run of terror attacks in Europe over the past year or so, gunfire, the vehicle-as-weapon attacks, and even a bombing at a concert. All those high-profile attacks against the free world essentially were the acts of terrorists, jihadists.
But Sunday night in Las Vegas? That heinous act was by a 64-year-old former accountant-pilot-poker player who lived in a senior living community. Outside of the fact that he was an unmarried white man — a common denominator of most of the mass shooters in this country — this man, on the surface, did not fit in any dangerous profile.
Just another tragic case of an individual with an arsenal of weapons, handguns, rapid-fire guns, and an intent to murder people and create mayhem — maybe even get his name and face on CNN — before he himself takes the fast lane to hell.
A tragedy uniquely American, sad to say.
Columnists at newspapers large and small are addressing the tragedy this week, many using it as proof stronger gun laws are needed; others challenging that concept, each using carefully selected statistics to back their claims.
Meanwhile, the Republican White House spokesperson says, "This isn't the time to talk gun control," but to mourn, while Democratic counterparts shout that it's absolutely time to talk gun control, in fact no better time to do so.
It may not be time to talk gun control, but it is at least the time to recognize that the sky is blue.
Gun violence, mass shootings not by ideologues but simply deranged men — this is largely unique to America. Other people in the world live in fear of their government, live in fear of finding food to eat, or monsoons flooding away their homes and livelihoods. Americans seem to worry about the quantity of their Facebook friends and the possibility of getting shot at a movie theater, football game or concert.
A quarter century ago, about 65 percent of the public wanted stricter gun laws, while about 35 percent were adamant against. Now, it's closer to 50-50. Guess what? America is divided on an issue. Imagine that.
I would never take the side of those who want hunting rifles, or home and self-defense handguns confiscated. That won't happen and shouldn't happen. I also don't want to argue with the National Rifle Association, but there is no way anyone will ever be able to convince me that any private individual needs to maintain the right to secure his own arsenal of rapid-fire weapons. The Las Vegas murderer had 23 weapons in his hotel room, another 19 at his home, with enough ammo to invade a small country. There is the right to bear arms, and there is dangerous insanity.
Our country is about 4.5 percent of the world's population, but we own about 45 percent of the privately-held guns. Guns are as American as ... well, actually they're more American than nearly anything else. They're a big part of our history, intrinsic to our culture, a consistent element of our entertainment and literature.
Back to recognizing the sky is blue: Everyone should recognize that the preponderance of this type of mass shootings happens here in the good ol' USA. Among our most heartbreaking mass shootings was Sandy Hook, in December 2012, when 20 children and six adults were murdered by a deranged young white male. Since then in our nation, there have been more than 1,500 mass shootings (where more than four people were shot at). Interestingly, instead of easing the drive to own a gun, the shootings nearly always spike gun ownership.
And it should be noted that while gun ownership has shot up, the number of gun homicides have decreased, something gun advocates like to point out — though violent crime in general has gone down by similar statistical totals, something they don't often add.
The greatness of this country is showcased by the bravery men and women displayed in the aftermath, staying with each other, protecting each other, comforting each other — all while wondering if the gunshots will ever stop. It's showcased by the people of Las Vegas lining up for several hours just to give blood, even though blood was not really needed. Heartbroken people of good will just wanted to be part of a solution, to be of help, desperately wanted to do something.
Until we do something about it, it's going to happen again, and no doubt some troubled psychopath will try to one up Las Vegas. Next time it may be you, your wife, your buddy, your son or your daughter who takes a bullet, who doesn't come home.
The sky is blue, America.