There’s a common thread to these mass shootings: It’s guns. The sheer volume, the easy access, the perverse obsession. Some will tell you that the shooters are mentally ill, or had bad parents, or were victims of misfortune, or some other bullshit excuse for the (mostly) male murderers.
President Bill Clinton, in his first State of the Union address, said to thunderous applause from Congress, “If you all pass the Brady Bill, I’ll sure sign it.” And they did. And he did. And I was there. I have heard that at the time it was the loudest, most uproarious bill signing in the history of the East Room. There was definitely hooting and hollering and perhaps some folks stood on their gilded chairs applauding wildly.
Not to diminish the tragedy of that day, I couldn’t, but where is our national coming together now? Where is our shared grief? Our communal rage? We still have a common enemy. It’s us! It’s our lack of political will, our abject failure to act, our thoughts and freaking prayers.
I am broken for the parents of murdered children, and broken for the parents who will send their children to school today with no certainty they will come home. I am angry at a society that values weapons more than its citizens. I am frustrated with our leaders for their inaction, and I am frustrated with myself for becoming complacent.
The Brady Bill was a background check and a simple waiting period on the purchase of a gun. And the Assault Weapons Ban did no more than stop the manufacture of these guns for ten years after the bill signing (there are more exclusions in the bill than there are actual banned weapons.) Yet both pieces of legislation worked while they were in effect.
It should not be so difficult to put common sense restrictions on gun ownership. Yet even if Congress did act, there would be little to celebrate. We have far too many to mourn.