At least thirteen people were killed Thursday morning and 20 more injured when a 20-year-old white male opened fire at a community college in the sleepy town of Roseburg, Oregon. The shooter, who has yet to be identified, has been killed by local police, according to sources at the scene. CNN is reporting that the man discussed his intentions online Wednesday evening, but it appears nobody was warned at the school.
This mass murder brings the total to 142 school shootings since the Sandy Hook tragedy in December 2012. It is also the 294th mass shooting — shooting events where at least four people were injured — this year alone. Mind you, there have only been 274 days in this year so far. It seems safe to say that this country will witness upwards of 400 mass shootings before January 1st.
Over the next few days, we’ll get the same type of discussions we’ve heard dozens of times since 20 young children were brutally killed by a crazed gunman less than three years ago in a well-to-do Connecticut burg. Liberals will toss around the need to pass ‘common sense’ gun laws like expanded background checks, longer purchase waiting periods and better mental health screening. Some will point out owning a gun actually makes you and the community less safe. Conservatives will counter that we really need more lax gun laws and less ‘gun-free zones’ so we can have more good guys with guns to counteract the bad guys.
In the end, absolutely nothing will happen. Sure, it will make for a lot of talk on cable news, complete with pearl-clutching, shouting and hand-wringing, but that’s all we’ll get. Just talk, talk and more talk. I guess we can blame the NRA and its stranglehold on state and federal legislative bodies. Or perhaps the Second Amendment, with its built-in gun rights clause handed directly down from the infallible Founding Fathers.
The fact is that America’s gun fascination is just too embedded in its collective DNA. The formation of this country centered on militia members using their own firearms to shoot the British. We expanded the nation to the Pacific, Canada and Mexico by killing millions of Native Americans. We strengthened our Union by fighting our own countrymen, killing hundred of thousands of Americans. We’ve fetishized war to the point that nobody can say a cross word about veterans or soldiers without dealing with ostracization.
If we were serious about ending mass shootings, and gun violence in general, we could actually do something as a nation. We could make owning a firearm extremely difficult. Beyond going through background checks and waiting periods, prospective gun owners would have to register any firearm, as well as maintain insurance on the weapon. Re-registration would have to take place regularly, proficiency exams would need to be passed, insurance maintained, which is what we require from car owners. Citizens looking to procure and own multiple firearms would need to provide legitimate reasons.
Again, we don’t want to do any of this. Since owning a gun is a ‘right’ and bestowed upon us by the Constitution, and we have this underlying belief that we need to have a stockpile of weapons in case the government becomes tyrannical and we need to fight for our freedom, gun registrations and firearm restrictions will never, ever, ever come to pass. We just love our history of guns and glory way too fucking much.
Therefore, just offer up your prayers and thoughts for these latest victims. Post your thoughts on what’s wrong with society on Facebook and Twitter. Get into ‘political’ debates with your friends and family. But realize, it is all for naught. This is America. This is who we are. We’ve come to the conclusion that gun deaths are all just an acceptable part of our culture.
UPDATE: As of Thursday evening, the death count has been revised down to ten and seven additional people were injured. Also, the shooter has been identified as 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer.