Mass shootings don’t even shock us, anymore.
Anger us, sure. Sicken us, absolutely. But there’s just nothing unexpected, anymore, about news that a lone piece of human filth has taken advantage of our nation’s liberal firearms policies to arm himself and wantonly take the lives of others.
There’s nothing surprising about the response, either.
Some will call for changes to laws, seeking to make it harder for someone like Patrick Crusius to buy weapons. Crusius is the 21-year-old Texas man who legally acquired an assault weapon and murdered 22 people in an El Paso Walmart on Saturday. He injured a couple dozen more.
Connor Betts, 24, is another man who should not have had a gun. Betts was clad in body armor and was carrying spare ammunition magazines when he killed his sister and eight others in Dayton, Ohio. Dozens more were injured in his early Sunday rampage before police put an end to his spree by killing him.
Both men put out plenty of warning they were dangerous. Better background checks, supported by longer waiting periods, might have kept them from obtaining the instruments of destruction.
It was heartening to read President Donald Trump’s tweet that supported that notion. “We cannot let those killed in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, die in vain. Likewise for those so seriously wounded. We can never forget them, and those many who came before them,” he wrote. He called on on legislators of both parties to get together on “strong background checks,” though he immediately clouded the issue by tying it to immigration reform.
Trump’s words are encouraging for about a minute, until you realize Mitch McConnell, Kentucky senator and majority leader in the U.S. Senate, would have to allow it to happen. McConnell has received more than $1.25 million from the National Rifle Association, which has spent $1.6 million lobbying against bipartisan legislation that would implement stronger background checks.
The American people want better background checks. A majority of their representatives want them. If his rhetoric is to be believed, Trump also wants them.
But the NRA doesn’t, so Mitch McConnell doesn’t, and they won’t happen.
Instead, we see the usual red herrings thrown about. Gun extremists try to blame video games and mental illness for gun violence. They ignore the fact that video games — including violent ones — are played worldwide, but only the U.S. has such an epidemic of gun deaths.
Mental illness certainly has played a part in such killings, but there’s no evidence that’s the case here.
Crusius just hates people who are not the same color as him. He published a manifesto that could have come directly from the accumulated tweets of Donald Trump or the daily scaremongering of Fox News.
Police are still piecing together Betts’ motives, but two former high school classmates told The Associated Press Betts was once suspended for compiling a “hit list” of those he wanted to kill and a “rape list” of girls he wanted to sexually assault.
Mental illness was not a factor here. Crusius is just a bad man. Betts was just a bad man.
Crusius’ record shows he is a right-wing extremist. Betts’ social media indicates he was a left-wing extremist. Bad people come from across the political spectrum and they usually leave evidence they’re dangerous. It’s time for lawmakers to stand up to the out-of-touch NRA and take sensible action to keep such people from magnifying their ability to inflict death on the rest of us.