Guns Just Killed More Children. How Quickly Will We Do Nothing?
There was another school shooting Tuesday. There's always another school shooting. This one was in Denver, not far from Columbine High School, where 11 people were murdered 20 years ago. We've learned almost nothing since then.
About 1,850 students attend the STEM School Highlands Ranch, which covers K through 12. One of those students lost his life yesterday and eight were injured. The shooters are believed to be students, one an adult male and the other a minor. They entered the school and commenced their rampage just before 2 p.m.
"Over the next few minutes, quite a few shots were fired," Douglas County Undersheriff Holly Nicholson-Kluth said."
"As officers were arriving at the school they could still hear gunshots," Nicholson-Kluth said.
Three students tried to tackle a gunman, but one was shot in the chest. His friends attempted to "stanch the bleeding by putting pressure on his chest" -- like they were in a war zone.
Now the grieving begins. Then comes the doing of nothing. Doing nothing about gun violence is the great American pastime. Doing nothing has the noble benefit of not "politicizing a tragedy." Decent people don't talk about today's school shooting. Why should they? They have last week's and last month's. Professional horrible person Dana Loesch's well-paid job is to attack anyone who dares suggest guns are responsible for gun deaths.
Colorado Senator Cory Gardner, whose pockets are stuffed with NRA funny money, said yesterday that he's "closely monitoring the situation" at Highlands Ranch. He's also thinking and praying. Gardner thanked the first responders, as well. We praise the heroes who are on the front lines of a war we refuse to end, one that's only escalating. This war has no civilians, only unwilling soldiers. Riley Howell, 21, was one of two students killed during a shooting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Howell was a hero. He threw himself in front of bullets to save others. That's courage most Republican legislators don't possess. They can't even throw themselves in front of the gun lobby. They just thank the actual heroes for their service and continue doing nothing.
The UNC shooting was literally last week. It's become such a regular occurrence, we now prepare children for the seeming inevitability of the next school shooting we'll eventually forget. We treat these attacks as if they were hurricanes or tornadoes, but they aren't natural disasters. They're products of our own incompetence and moral cowardice. Read this and feel shamed:
"I heard a gunshot," said Makai Dixon, 8, a second grader who had been training for this moment, with active shooter drills and lockdowns, since he was in kindergarten. "I'd never heard it before."
That's not "freedom." That's profit at any cost. New Zealand addressed gun violence in a bold and decisive manner. We could follow their lead and pretend it's our own idea. But NRA-owned Republicans would rather mock any and all sensible solutions. This week, Cory Booker proposed treating guns like actual lethal weapons and not your child's Legos left randomly around the house. Rick Scott responded like he was delivering the monologue on an unfunny version of "The Tonight Show" (there might be a couple redundant words in that last sentence).
What the fuck? This isn't even worth the good snark you serve when company comes over. This is Solo disposable plates snark. Maybe Rick Scott is too busy fighting He-Man to notice, but here in current-day America, we register automobiles every day and no slopes have slipped. Cars are still (unfortunately) the country's dominant form of transportation.
The president has made no statement so far about the Colorado shooting. He's commented more quickly about terrorist attacks in other countries. Parents are afraid of sending their kids to school because other kids might murder them. This isn't just happening in the right-wing bogeyman-land of Chicago. It's a nationwide epidemic.
After every mass shooting, even ones involving the most vulnerable among us, the gun lovers gather their weapons close and hold them tight. One guy on Facebook declared that his guns were for the protection of himself, his family, and the recreational thrill of exploding watermelons. Wow. How can we ask people to deny themselves the pleasure of cosplaying Gallagher just to keep kids safe? How could we go on calling ourselves the land of the freely shot?
America might choose to do nothing about what's actually killing us, but we'll never stop being angry about it.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.