Thursday, June 15, 2017 at 8:43 AM

Gun-Crazy USA: Mass Shooting Targets Congressmen (and Postmen Too)

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

A man angry with President Trump unleashed a barrage of gunfire Wednesday morning at Republican members of Congress as they held a baseball practice at a park in Alexandria, wounding House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others in a frenzied scene that included a long gun battle with police.

The gunman, James T. Hodgkinson, a 66-year-old unemployed home inspector from southern Illinois, died after the shootout. Two Capitol Police officers assigned to Scalise’s security detail were wounded.

(Washington Post, June 14, 2017)

No doubt you’ve seen some of the media’s wallowing, 24/7 coverage of this shooting. It features profiles of the shooter that would make any politician green with envy, which compels me to reiterate that:

I don’t know why the media always reward these psychopaths by giving them the fame they covet; that is, by plastering their pathetic mugs all over television and reporting pop psychology about why and how they did their dastardly deeds.

You’d think … we would have figured out by now that the best way to discourage them is by focusing our attention on the victims and limiting what we say about the [terrorists] to: May God have mercy on your soul as you all burn in Hell!

(“Massacre in Omaha,” The iPINIONS Journal, December 7, 2007)

Thank God the shooter was the only one who died in this case. But it speaks volumes about the commonplace nature of mass shootings in this country that the only reason this one is getting so much coverage is that he targeted members of Congress.

Nothing betrays this new normal quite like the media paying only passing attention to another far deadlier shooting yesterday:

A UPS employee who had recently filed a grievance opened fire Wednesday inside one of the company’s San Francisco packing facilities, killing three co-workers before fatally shooting himself as employees fled frantically into the streets shouting ‘shooter!’ authorities and witnesses said.

(Associated Press, June 14, 2017)

Yet this cynical media coverage is surpassed by cynical political talk about this shooting in Alexandria triggering a new era of civility. After all, if the killing of 20 children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School or, more on point, the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords didn’t do so, the near-death experience of these congressmen surely won’t.

Frankly, the only honest thing any of us can say in times like these is the proverb:

There but for the grace of God go I.

This fatalism is especially warranted given that the elephant in all this media coverage is the easy, ready access even crazy people in America have to military-style weapons. I have lamented the willful failure of Congress to redress this enabling access in many commentaries, including more recently in “San Bernardino: Another Day, Another Shooting in Gun-Crazy USA,” December 3, 2015, and “‘Under the Gun’ Appeals to Common Sense of NRA Members. Good Luck with That.” May 16, 2016.

But the following from “This Gun-Control Debate Is Insane!” April 5, 2013, sums up the madness that played out yesterday:

The United States is calling North Korea insane for threatening to launch ‘merciless’ nuclear strikes against it.  Well, I suppose it takes an insane country to know one. After all, one can fairly call the United States insane for repeatedly vowing to curb gun violence without making any reference to guns.

In fact, I’m willing to bet my literary legacy (you may laugh) that – looking back 100 years from now – American guns will have killed more Americans than North Korean nukes by a factor of millions.

In the meantime, good luck being safe if you’re caught up in the next mass shooting.

Related commentaries:
Another mass shooting
under the gun
Gabby Giffords
gun control

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