I was en route to Dulles Airport, headed to California for some much-needed R&R last month, when I heard the tragic, ugly news: at least 10 dead in a move-theater shooting in suburban Denver.
After the momentary horror, then confirmation of the tragedy on my smartphone, I thought about how many times we've been here before -- lone gun nut, armed with enough firepower to take down a Taliban outpost, mows down innocent bystanders. Then, I got pissed: how many more massacres will it take for someone -- anyone -- to come to their collective senses and dope-smack the blood-drenched leaders of the NRA and their henchmen in Congress?
Tucson. Fort Hood. Virginia Tech. Columbine.
They've become so routine they've devolved into shorthand. And newspapers are quickly developing handy graphics to help us keep track. And those are only the ones that grab headlines on a national scale: in the DC area last week, four people were shot and killed, and in urban areas nationwide multiple shootings are common enough that city leaders want to act where national ones fear to tread, taking on the NRA for the sake of their constituents -- and children.
The one thing that frustrates me most is that the pattern is so very similar. Guns -- typically more than one, usually the type developed specifically to kill other humans, as opposed to hunt "varmints" or put food on the table. Disturbed loner -- just sane enough to pass a cursory background check, then gather up as many weapons as he can afford -- or carry away at once. A nation bound together in mourning over a senseless, inexplicable act, bloodshed that tore apart families, ended young lives prematurely and -- unfortuantely -- rarely forces us to confront what we don't want to see.
And it once again reestablishes the heavyweight credentials of an NRA that, thanks to legions of lobbyists and tons of cash, manages to use old tropes and worn-out saws to dodge the blame: "guns don't kill people; crazy gunmen do"; if the bystanders were armed, everyone would be safe;" "don't blame us, there are gun control laws already on the books."
Which the NRA and their allies on the right have spent, oh, about two decades trying to get rid of. They've become so absurdly successful they've even run out of gun laws to attack.
Only there's plenty of blame to spread around. Dems haven't exactly distinguished themselves fighting the good fight against the NRA, either -- pragmatic cowardice that goes all the way to the top.
E.J., make it plain.