The shooting massacre on Thursday morning at Umpqua Community College in Oregon was, as President Obama noted, a routine event that “means there’s another community stunned with grief, and communities across the country forced to relieve their own anguish, and parents across the country who are scared because they know it might have been their families or their children.” However, one wonders how, or why, any American or American community could possibly be stunned with grief over a “routine event.” The truth is that because it is a routine occurrence, by next week all will be forgotten. President Obama did what many Americans do when they feel helpless to stop a “tragedy” and offered prayers and thoughts for the community. He also reminded Americans that these mass shootings are borne of “a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America.”
Since the President is constitutionally helpless to do anything to curb the proliferation of guns in America, he did the only thing he could do; begged the people in power for redress and offered up prayers for the victims, their loved ones, and the community where the massacre took place. However, god has nothing to do with what happened at the community college in Oregon, and god is not going to stop it from occurring; so it is curious praying will solve the problem or comfort the grieving. Even an alleged god is painfully aware that they are not nearly as powerful as the National Rifle Association (NRA), Republicans, gun manufacturers, or the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
It is worth noting, yet again, that the only people that can put a halt to the epidemic of gun massacres are voters by making a different “political choice” to prevent these NRA-slaughters from happening. But Republicans and the NRA keep the people so terrified that they continue putting politicians beholden to the aforementioned groups in power to perpetuate the conditions that made America into a structurally violent country. Republicans and the NRA are very aware that more fear and loathing in the population means more gun sales and more massacres in a continuous loop of mass shootings.
What happened in Oregon, and Florida, is now commonplace in America courtesy of the tireless effort and machinations of Republicans, tea party extremists, and the National Rifle Association to create a structurally violent country. Many people claim that the near-daily mass shootings in America are the fault of a deranged individual and nothing else, but if that deranged individual did not have easy access to firearms, the majority of Americans would have gone their entire lives without hearing about Umpqua College, Columbine, Aurora, Virginia Tech, or Sandy Hook.
Most Americans are sick to near-death of hearing gun fanatics claim a gun is just an inanimate object, like an inanimate hammer, so for dog’s sake do not blame the inanimate object. But in case politicians claiming guns are like hammers have not been keeping score, there have been no deranged individuals killing multiple human beings in schools and churches with an inanimate hammer. As one pundit rightly claimed, if these mass shootings were just about deranged people, they would be happening in every nation on Earth; but they just do not and it is by design.
Some have said that the rash of mass shootings is down to a sick, nihilistic society with a belief that the 2nd Amendment is more sacred than gun victim’s lives. Even that assessment, although true in some circles, ignores the fact that over 90% of gun owners believe the 2nd Amendment leaves plenty of room for regulation in the form of simple gun safety measures like background checks for gun purchases and restricting the number of military assault weapons in the hands of non-military civilians. No, the majority of Americans do not want guns in the hands of ‘deranged individuals‘ and criminals, but these massacres will continue unabated simply because Republicans could not care less what 90% of Americans want because they serve the gun lobby; not American people.
As the President predicted was going to happen after the Oregon slaughter, gun zealots began their claims that putting more guns on campuses would have prevented the Oregon casualties and loudly decried Oregon’s “gun free zones” as why the massacre happened. Except in Oregon, public colleges are not gun free zones; the NRA, Republicans, and 2nd Amendment advocates made sure there were plenty of guns on the UCC campus. Zealots also claim that if there were more guns in Americans’ hands, one good guy with a gun could have stopped the carnage, but there were plenty of good guys on the Umpqua campus with guns.
However, one particular Veteran with a gun was intelligent enough to realize that he and his gun-carrying cohort had no idea where SWAT sharpshooters were stationed, or whether regular officers would know they were ‘good guys’ with guns or the shooter. The two ‘good guys’ that did not use their guns survived to tell their story. As an aside, a day before the Oregon massacre, a “good guy with a gun” in Texas shot a carjacking victim in the head trying to prove the NRA’s “good guy with a gun” claim was a valid reason to put more guns on the streets.
Americans who are not already conditioned that near-daily mass shootings are what makes America exceptional should get conditioned and stop being stunned and saddened. As the President remarked during an interview a few mass shooting ago, if the country could not come to its senses and stand up to the NRA, ALEC, and Republicans after 20 small children and their heroic teachers were slaughtered like animals at Sandy Hook, the nation may as well stop being stunned and consider mass shootings routine. It is, after all, one of the things that makes America exceptionally violent, and Americans incredibly terrified by Republican design.
If Republicans are not fear mongering about immigrants being criminals, Muslims being terrorists, or people of color coming to rob and kill good white folk, they are warning Americans that the federal government is subjecting them to tyranny including coming to take their precious guns. Remember, that after the Sandy Hook massacre when the President appealed to Congress to pass simple gun safety measures, Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sent out emergency warnings to Kentucky residents that President Obama was “coming to take their guns away.”
Even the Douglas County sheriff overseeing the Oregon massacre response has announced after the President’s appeal for sane gun safety laws that he would never enforce any gun laws like many sheriffs across the country after Sandy Hook. He also posted a video claiming that calls for gun safety measures by grieving parents after the Sandy Hook shooting was part of a conspiracy to convince legislators to “take Americans’ guns away.”
The sad fact is that unless voters evict the NRA’s servants in Congress from office, there will never be another gun safety law and there will be more “routine” mass shootings. The day of the Oregon massacre was the 275th day of 2015 and the Oregon slaughter was the 264th gun massacre of the year. As the President said, this kind of violence is unique to America and “a level of carnage” Republicans refuse to address because they serve the NRA and want to keep America a “structurally violent country.” It is after all one of the reasons they claim the United States is exceptional.