Today is a day ending in “y” which means there’s been yet another mass shooting in America. This time it was Sunday night on the Vegas strip, and the damage was high enough – fifty-plus are dead and over five hundred injured as of this writing – to break all previous records for the “worst mass shooting in history,” making this the fourth time in a decade that we’ve been bestowed such a dubious honor on yet another sociopath.
Napoleon once said that quantity “has a quality all its own,” and in the case of this particular race to the bottom, that quality is one of numbing horror and futility. These incidents happen with such frequency, and such increasing devastation, that many are now relegated to far dustier corners of the Internet than most ever travel so that we might absolve ourselves of our collective guilt at failing to prevent another maniac from making a grand sacrifice to our Moloch.
The headlines this particular tragedy is earning were precipitated by two things: its scale and its scope. Only true acts of domestic terrorism are seen as fit to rise to the level of “controversial enough” to demand national attention, regardless of whether we’ll label them as such or not. Sadly, the argument over precisely what label to apply to yet another heavily-armed white man shooting up a public square is far too often the only one we ever end up having, because it’s always “too soon” to talk about the piss-poor legislative framework that allows men like Stephen Paddock to acquire such weapons of mass destruction in the first place.
These scripts are so familiar to us now, yet we mindlessly parrot them as if, at some point, the adults will finally step in and avert these tragedies once and for all if we only crow loudly enough. But we are the adults, and we have done nothing except dishonor the legacy of Sandy Hook’s dead children, the legacy Pulse Nightclub’s dead partygoers, and the legacy of Inland Regional Center’s dead employees through our inaction. Doubtlessly, we will dishonor the legacy of Vegas’ dead tourists in the same fashion, as well.
My question in the face of this is not “why?” for I already know the answer: a recalcitrant, neo-Confederate faction of our federal government, backed by millions of dollars by an even more recalcitrant, neo-Confederate lobbying organization, would rather watch swaths of innocent people continue to be gunned down in increasingly spectacular acts of violence rather than enact any legislation that would interrupt the flow of cash to arms manufacturers from the market of paranoid zealots they’ve been cultivating for several decades.
No, my question is “what”: what level of violence will it take to make these factions capitulate to some level of compassion for their fellow man? Or have they none? Already, the usual suspects are making their full-court press, screeching wildly about “false flags” and falsely attributing the motives of the shooter, political allegiances, hell…even his very identity in their haste to deflect any and all attention away from the fact that, as Wonkette put it, “having over 10 long guns, at least one of them fully automatic…a collection of scopes and ammunition, and holing up in a hotel for days before a large crowd gathers below isn’t normal behavior by any means.” Clearly, this incident won’t be the one where neo-Confederate reactions have their “come to Jesus” moment. So what will it take?
I know it won’t take appeals to reason, or humanity. Not in our present political climate. What it will take is a fight, a real fight, one that will create innumerable political casualties in order to assure victory. The NRA has a stranglehold over the electorate, one that has most politicians across the spectrum scared as hell to touch the political third rail of “gun control” at all. All the while, people continue to be gunned down en masse with frightening regularity, and each attack is more devastating than the last.
If our legislators won’t sacrifice their careers to preserve the life and dignity of American citizens, why should I sacrifice my vote to preserve the life and dignity of the offices they hold on my behalf? With so much on the line, it’s the only question worth answering.
This was originally posted on Pink Elephants