It is a macabre fact. The easing of Covid shutdowns has brought back mass shootings in the U.S. With almost no packed schools, movie theaters, malls, airports and fewer packed workplaces during the last year, mass shootings did not lead the news. Now they are back.
This month’s shootings at Atlanta spas and at a Boulder, Colorado grocery store have jolted the nation back into the banality and unpredictability of gun violence. And there is another danger. Even before victims’ families are notified and services are held; even before suspects are charged, evidence gathered and the slow process of justice begun – the public craves a “take home message.”
Which group is most often targeted? Which shooting is the “worst”? What groups – white supremacist, religious – do mass gun murderers belong to?
In 16 years of covering gun violence as a national reporter, I know that the take home message is not found in the identities of the victims or the perpetrators. The 2016 Pulse nightclub shootings probably took the most LGBT and Latinx lives in recent memory but the murderer was also an ISIS sympathizer. Think about that!
Racists like the 2015 Charleston church shooter and 2012 Wisconsin Sikh temple shooter (and of course the New Zealand 2019 Christchurch mosque shooter) executed their victims in cold blood. But so did the Vegas shooter who killed 60 (and wounded 411) in 2017 without targeting any apparent minorities or ethnicities. Aren’t they all hate crimes?
Yes women are often gun victims, especially because of domestic violence, but so are those who are not classically powerless or pitied like the four at Naval Air Station Pensacola and two at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, in 2019 and the 13 killed at Fort Hood in 2009. And what about the three Baton Rouge and five Dallas police officers killed in cold blood by snipers in 2016, sadly victims of apparent racially motivated violence?
Do the many gun victims at schools and college campuses, workplaces and in intra-racial violence settings not count because they are not ethnic minorities or because they are not “hyper-sexualized” Asian women as Woke media want to cast the Atlanta killings? To contort the Atlanta spa killings into some kind of “violence against Asians,” who are somehow the “worst” gun victims, is factually ignorant and a blasphemy to the memory of all gun victims.
I am no longer a gun law reporter but have pointed out, as many do, that well-written, psychiatrically-based laws would keep guns from the kinds of hateful and mentally ill shooters that we most recently saw in Atlanta and Boulder. Does anyone (except the very outdated gun lobby) believe that people with dementia, cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s; people who have been hospitalized for mental illness; people convicted of felonies and domestic violence and people on the No Fly and Terror Watch Lists should have firearms?
Mass Shootings – Dangerous People
The truth is that most mass shooters are known by their own families to be dangerous; some families have begged authorities to intervene. (One family I interviewed was relieved that, when their son killed himself, he did not take scores of others with him.)
Most imminently violent people are obvious to their communities and co-workers. Yet the Orlando, Dallas, Baton Rouge, Tucson, Aurora, Fort Hood, Navy Yard, Santa Barbara, Charleston, Planned Parenthood, Chattanooga, Kalamazoo, Roanoke, Umpqua, and Lafayette mass murderers – to name only a few – legally bought their firearms. The 2017 Fort Lauderdale airport murder suspect walked into an FBI field office and admitted hearing voices yet Alaska cops returned his gun to him.
What’s needed are psychiatrically-based gun laws, and what stops their passage are national lawmakers supporting a very inflexible and outdated gun lobby. Lawmakers can stop the bloodshed … and stop our first summer of Covid freedom from new, violence-related lockdowns.
Can we ever stop mass shootings? Using these killings for the Woke Agenda is counterproductive.