We Couldn't Even Go A Full MLK Weekend Without A Mass Shooting
It's Monday of the three-day Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, and you'd think the least we could do as a nation to honor his memory is go 72 hours without gun violence. It can't be harder than Dry January or Veganuary. We're not giving up booze or pretending to enjoy cauliflower "steaks." Why can't we take a pause on killing each other?
That's too much to ask, it seems. Last night in Kansas City, Missouri, a man opened fire on a line of people waiting to enter the 9ine Ultra Lounge bar. He killed one woman and wounded at least 15 people. There is no clear motive. An armed security guard killed the shooter.
According to the 9ine Ultra Lounge's Facebook page, last night was "Sold Out Sundays." This was apparently an event to celebrate the Kansas City Chiefs beating the Tennessee Titans and advancing to the Super Bowl. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker described the shooting as a "tragic end to such a wonderful day in Kansas City."
The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence states that Missouri has "appallingly weak gun laws." Since 2017, people can carry concealed, loaded weapons in public without a background check or permit. Also in 2017, Missouri boasted the sixth-highest gun death rate in the country. The state exports guns used in crimes at a higher rate than the national average. We think Missouri earns its "F" rating from the Giffords Law Center.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas seems like a nice guy, but his tweet this morning bordered on "thoughts and prayers" pablum. This wasn't a natural disaster. It was a deliberate act of homicide. It's become disturbingly common for politicians to thank first responders and security, as Lucas does here, for preventing a mass shooting from "being even worse." Two people are dead and 15 seriously injured. We need to seriously confront our twisted reality where there are freely accessible weapons on the streets capable of making that grim statistic "even worse."
Meanwhile, in Texas, some asshole decided to shoot up a concert in San Antonio. Police Chief William McManus said an argument broke out at the Ventura, a music venue and bar, and someone decided to resolve it with bullets. Now two people are dead and five others injured. The shooter fled the scene. Sunday's concert was a showcase for multiple performers called "Living the DREAM." Texas also has an "F" rating from the Giffords Law Center. (It should wear a dunce cap and sit in the corner with Missouri.) However, it seems as if the shooter might've broken an existing gun law. Texas prohibits carrying guns in bars, which is actually sensible.
Guns destroyed more lives this weekend. Yes, I understand that people with guns are the guilty party, but if they'd just pointed their finger and shouted, "Bang!" they'd just look silly and everyone would still be alive. We are a sick culture suffering from a Dirty Harry obsession with guns. We fetishize them and perversely equate the ability to take a life quickly and at a distance with "freedom." Martin Luther King Day is when we might we dare imagine an alternate reality where big problems are solved without weapons.
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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. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).