Following July’s mass murder in Aurora, Colorado, another gunman in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, kills six and wounds three in August.
Aurora’s shooter supposedly is mentally ill. Oak Creek’s shooter, Wade Michael Page, who put a gun to his head and killed himself, has been identified as a white supremacist.
What the shooters have in common is their ability to legally acquire a gun.
The news reports and responses from our nation’s leaders are also in common. The news again has stories of a community struggling to cope, heroic efforts of trying to take down the shooter. There are survivor stories, remembrances and tributes. In an attempt to make some sense out of what happened there are discussions of the shooter’s life and struggle with mental illness, and in the case of Oak Creek: who are Sikhs, and what can be done about hate crimes. The President and the guy who hopes to replace him again express how saddened they are and offer their condolences to the victims’ families and friends, that the American people have them in their thoughts and prayers.
And in common again is the President’s and Congress’ reluctance to address the need for federal gun control law: the one step that can be taken to reduce gun violence and make it not so easy to kill. But instead, the gun problem is deliberately sidestepped to other issues: mental illness, racism, hate crimes, domestic terrorism, or controlling gang violence. As important as these concerns may be, they are nevertheless separate from the issue of inconsistent and lax gun laws. When laws are made that allow easy access to a gun, grant citizens the right to secretly carry a gun (wouldn’t open carry be a better deterrent), to use that gun lethally in response to a perceived threat, such as are allowed under the “Castle Doctrine” and “Stand-Your-Ground” laws, government is complicit in the violence that results, including mass murder.
Until Congress acts we will continue to have the same conversations over and over again. We will express sympathy, we will again react with inexplicable dismay and ask how such a horrific incident could happen, and we will again just let the gun problem wither on the vine.
With minor changes to location, shooter’s name, and motive I will be able to rewrite this article again and again and again. The weapon of choice will always be the same: a gun.
Dinesh Ramde and Todd Richmond, Sikh Temple Shooter Said To Be White Supremacist, Associate Press
Dinesh Ramde and Todd Richmond, FBI: Temple Gunman Shot Himself; Still No Motive, Associate Press