Isn't it time to come to the realization that shooting sprees like the one recently in the Santa Barbara area that left six dead is simply part of American culture? Why treat it like an aberration?
From Columbine to Virginia Tech to Sandy Hook into the present, we are temporarily shocked by the sensational aspects of a senseless shooting, we watch several news cycles on different aspects of the shooting, provided background on the assailant and victims, listen as elected officials offer reactionary legislation that is destined to go nowhere, only to return to business as usual.
Why are we shocked, saddened or dismayed?
In his ignorance Samuel Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber, may have best summarized where America stands on gun violence.
In an open letter to the parents of victims of the Santa Barbara shooting, Wurzelbacher wrote:
"I am sorry you lost your child. I myself have a son and daughter and the one thing I never want to go through, is what you are going through now. But: As harsh as this sounds -- your dead kids don't trump my Constitutional rights."
Verbally, Joe the Plumber does not speak for all Americans, but when one examines his pathetic statements through the lens of the country's action or inaction he enjoys nearly unanimous consent. It is not about one's myopic understanding of the Second Amendment, but the culture that has been created.
The predictable playbook in the aftershock of such shootings is already underway. The traditional airwaves and social media are filled with the psychological makeup of the killer. Many have examined the slaughterer in Santa Barbara from the perspective of his misogynistic impulses and the impact those compulsions have on the larger society.
I don't question this analysis. But given our recent history, so what? Is anything going to change?
According to an April 2013 Washington Post poll, on the heels of the Sandy Hook shooting, 91 percent, including 74 percent of NRA members, supported expanding background checks on gun purchases.
But in Congress this was a nonstarter. Will any elected official pay a price for failing to pass legislation that was supported by 91 percent of the American people?
In some places in America the need to carry a gun has extended into the church. This would be laughable if it were a sitcom.
Many of those who claim to be opposed to gun violence are not beyond critique. Why wait for the sensational to occur like a university campus, elementary school, or a crowded theater?
In 2014, Chicago has a murder rate that places it slightly under a murder a day, many of those occur with unregistered weapons. But more seems to be done to legislate away the sensational than what is increasingly normative in urban America.
Some salute that Oakland's murder rate is down from last year at this point without recognizing many have been infected with a seductive numbing agent to senseless violence that leads to glancing attention at best to the news of a murder -- as long as it does not occur in their backyard.
Blame the NRA, if one is in search of boogeyman. Blame weak-kneed liberals, if that will assuage one's guilt. But let us also come to the collective understanding this is who and what America has become for the foreseeable future, where attending a political town-hall meeting, going Christmas shopping at a mall or serving at a military base can be synonymous with senseless violence.
Let us watch intently the aftermath of this latest shooting, listen to the talking heads debate what should or shouldn't happen going forward, attend the panel discussions about gun violence, listen to elected officials on both sides of the aisle decry pabulums of nothingness so that we can get back to whatever it was we were doing until the next carnage occurs.
Byron Williams is a contributing columnist. Contact him at 510-208-6417 or firstname.lastname@example.org.