Saturday, we watched the news of the mass shooting in El Paso. We went to bed angry.
Sunday, we awoke to the news of another mass shooting in Dayton. We went to church. We went angry.
We went to church to ask God, “What the Hell can we do? What can we say? Why is this happening? What are you going to do?”
The prayers were silent. Across the country, in thousands of other churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, cathedrals and even in living rooms, I’m sure we were joined by literally millions of Americans collectively asking God, “What the Hell can we do?”
Some, I suppose, were asking God to intervene. Asking God to do something. Take action. Come up with some sort of new holy law rendering future shooters incapable. Anything to stop the murder.
In two massacres, 29 people dead and at least 46 wounded or otherwise injured as a result. Within 16 hours of each other. From the bodies on the ground, concentric circles of grief, anger and shock were sent out to hundreds - maybe thousands - of homes and families across the country. Grief. Anger. Shock.
So, what do we do to effectively keep some of us from killing others of us in fits of anger, desperation, frustration or mindless, suicidal acts of cold blooded murder? I’ve not found an answer.
Yes, we can pile on gutless and NRA-bought-and-paid-for politicians of every stripe. Yes, they’ve done nothing. But, really, will the next shooter stop before the planned bloody deed to read new laws and decide he’s not going to do it because murder is against the law? Really?
Some say more mental health care is needed. O.K. How do we find the pre-shooter? How do we find them all? How do we get them into treatment? What if we miss a few? Will we get mental treatment to everyone that needs it? Really?
Some say get rid of the guns. The FBI estimates there are more than 300-million guns in private hands. Are we going to go after them? Take them away? Really? How many more killings will result from such efforts?
Some say destroy the NRA. Just attack it, legally or financially or morally until it’s dead. And the several million responsible gun owners who make up the bulk of the NRA? Destroy the NRA? Really?
More background checks and tougher security checks for those who want to buy guns? Both of the weekend shooters bought theirs legally. What more can be done? How many more hurdles? Really?
There is no one answer. And I can’t come up with even a handful that would be effective. That would end the bloodshed. That would stop the killing.
We are cursed by our own technology. The Internet has become an international “party line” for terrorists, wannabe terrorists, nutballs, delusional misfits and maniacs. Individuals who used to be angry, alone and afraid to act can now “talk” to thousands of other individuals similarly angry, afraid and alone. But, with the “party line,” they can strike common cause - boost the egos of each other - create an electronic world where crazy fantasies become their “realities.”
The FBI and others can track ISIS or other terrorists online. But they can’t act on what nasty deeds are planned within our borders because of privacy laws. Got an answer for that?
We’ve got a president who speaks of Nazi sympathizers and terrorists as “good people” and who will not - WILL NOT - disavow them or their acts. He gives verbal “cues” of approval to rough up protestors, vows to pay their legal costs, pumps up their zealotry by recognizing them at rallies and other public events. Both of last week’s shooters were admirers of Trump. One even had a picture on his website of 17 guns arranged to spell “T-R-U-M-P.” Really!
On the I-Net, there are the terrorist websites deliberately aimed at teens around the world. Filled with glossy videos and music. Telling the young they can achieve martyrdom by killing - and being killed - for such-and-such a cause. Pick one. Load your AK-47 and go!
When we were young, nearly all of us wondered how long we’d live, how many years were ahead of us. Millions of young people today don’t see themselves growing older. Many see themselves dying young. Some assume they will. School shootings, mass killings in stores, theaters, churches and concerts where they go feed into that. Video games and violent fantasy movies, too. There are more teen suicides per capita now than just a decade ago.
Yes, I’m venting. I’d bet you have, too. Because, when you look at these mass murders with a sense of reality, there seem to be no answers. A little bit here. A little bit there. Oh, we can do this. Or, we can do that. O,r even a whole bunch of things.
But, how do we reach - and stop - the thousands of twisted, sick minds out there conditioned by anger, by shame, by addiction, by encouragement from terrorists, by racism, by loneliness, by drugs, by harassment from their peers, by disappointment?
New laws won’t do it. Fears of punishment won’t do it. Making guns harder to buy won’t. Medical treatment won’t. When a semi-automatic can shoot 700 rounds a minute, nothing will do it.
Some say climate change is today’s most urgent problem. To me, it’s the lone, unidentified, suicidal white guy with an A-K. And I don’t have the answers.