Tom Clyde: Mass shooting of the week
More Dogs on Main
June 16, 2017
Wednesday was a busy day. The morning started off with a mass shooting in Washington, D.C. in which several people playing baseball before work were gunned down.
They were a Congressional team practicing for an upcoming charity game between the Republicans and Democrats. Details are still few and far between at the time I'm writing this, but because one of the players was a congressional leader, he had a security detail with him. They were able to engage in what the reports describe as a combat firefight, probably saving numerous lives while getting shot themselves.
Then, just for good measure, we had another mass shooting the same day in San Francisco at a UPS facility. That was a disgruntled former employee who came back and shot some of his former co-workers.
Locally, there was a mass shooting in Sandy, where a crazed ex-boyfriend stalked his ex-girlfriend and ended up shooting her, her kids and a bystander. On that one, it hit close to home. My niece's son goes to school in a district that adjoins the district where the shooting occurred.
This is not normal, I want to say. This is not what a civilized society looks like. But I’m wrong.
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The day before the shooting, the son of the woman who was killed had been at my niece's house. Her son had brought a bunch of friends home from school, and this kid was a friend of one of the friends. She had the sense that if she had driven a different car pool she could have been at the shooting and that her child could have been a victim.
So there you have it. The trifecta of a mentally unstable guy in Washington, the disgruntled former employee in San Francisco and a crazy domestic situation. If any one of the shooters had looked even slightly Middle Eastern, we would be in full panic mode. But these were garden-variety, American nutcases with guns who decided to shoot people. So it's apparently OK.
According to the news reports, there have been 153 mass shootings since the beginning of the year. That's about one a day. No wonder the shock value has worn off. They trot out the law enforcement officials who answer inane questions from reporters. The front line officers, who had to deal with the blood and guts and got shot at themselves, quietly go home to their families (except for those who went to the hospital after being shot), and God only knows how they deal with it. How they get up the next morning and go to work, how they dare leave their children alone or send them off to school. Unimaginable.
Every time this happens (which is like every day), I think, 'maybe this time something will change.' But if nothing changed after Sandy Hook, where a school full of children was shot up, nothing is going to change because of a deranged, rejected lover, a disgruntled former employee or a political nutcase. What will these Republican Congressmen say to the NRA lobbyist next time they get the call? Now that they have been on the receiving end of the gunfire, will they be less receptive to the message or just take the campaign donation just the same?
I saw a clip of a Congressman who had been there, still dressed in his baseball uniform. He had been there with his two sons, who were maybe junior high school and elementary school age. They had run for their lives and took refuge under a truck. Just out for a fun summer day with Dad, and now they are scarred for life. How do you make sense of that and get your kids to a point that they will leave the house again without fearing for their lives?
This is not normal, I want to say. This is not what a civilized society looks like. But I'm wrong. A mass shooting every day is completely normal in the United States. It's not only tolerated. It's accepted. As long as the shooter isn't wearing a turban, we read the article and say, "tut-tut" and move on to the YouTube puppy video du jour. It is entirely too normal. We accept it, tolerate it and never stand up and demand that something be done to stop it.
There are probably more guns than people in the United States. Nobody knows for sure because we don't keep track. Of the guns. We know how many people there are. The odds of serious gun control, of actually getting guns off our streets and out of the hands of the crazy people who shoot up our schools, work places and Congressional baseball practices are about the same as the odds of rounding up and deporting 12 million undocumented people.
So because of a failure of outrage, a failure of leadership, we, as a society, are accepting a mass shooting every day as being as normal as the sunrise. It makes me sick.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.