Actually, twice more. Three times, if we count the shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California at the end of last month.
And we all shout, cry and scream to the heavens, “Somebody do something!”
It’s time to face facts: Nothing will be done until we replace the current, supine Senate.
The two most recent mass shootings — of too damned many — took the lives of at least 30 people in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, in fewer than 24 hours. These are men, women and children who will never return home. Their loved ones will ache with their losses for the rest of their lives.
And we all want to know: What’s going to be different this time?
Not a thing. Not unless we — the American people — decide to do something different.
If not us, then who?
As usual, many politicians expressed their “thoughts and prayers” for these latest victims via social media — properly met with more skepticism and disdain than in the past.
The few positive suggestions were buried under the weight of ridiculous political rhetoric and the knowledge that the Senate has blocked legislation that might have made a difference — including $50 million allocated by the House earlier this year to simply study gun violence. The Senate, led by Mitch McConnell, won’t touch it. It has no taste for bucking its NRA enablers or responding to pleas from the American public with anything more than empty words and token reactions.
In the midst of this angst, President Trump’s responses, mostly expressed via Twitter, were all over the map. After he tweeted his concern for the El Paso victims, he turned his attention to a mixed martial arts match, then to touting his employment record.
The next day, he condemned the shootings, saying, “Hatred has no place here,” followed by one of his patented attacks on the media. The president suggested Democrats and Republicans in Congress reconvene to finally implement strong background checks, but added that such legislation could perhaps be linked to immigration reform — a non sequitur that suggests he just can’t help himself. He has to point the finger at his bête noire, illegal immigration.
Let’s be clear: Illegal immigrants had nothing to do with these massacres. But adding that layer of complexity to what would already be difficult legislation would almost certainly sabotage its success.
Words versus actions
On Monday, Trump vowed “to act with urgent resolve.” And, finally, the president decried “racism, bigotry and white supremacy” — before blaming the internet and violent videogames for much of the hatred in our society today.
In doing so, he exhibited a troubling lack of self-awareness for his own contributions to that hatred. From his campaign rhetoric that portrayed illegal immigrants as “rapists” and “murderers” to his retweeting of hateful messages from white supremacists and Islamophobes to his repetition of terms tinged with racial overtones — words like “infestation” and “invasion” — to his recent racist attacks on four House members of color, he has stirred the pot, to the pleasure of admiring white supremacists around the world.
He also revoked Obama-era grants awarded to community groups to fight white supremacy and other violent ideologies, and revoked an Obama-era provision to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of the mentally ill. (Now he’s calling for such a provision.)
An American failure
This president simply lacks the moral authority or the credibility to oppose white supremacy. We have to look elsewhere for leadership. We have to look to the people.
We’re tired of weak arguments about the Second Amendment that ignore the “well regulated” part. We’re tired of the “whataboutism” that diverts attention to prayer in schools, drag queens, anything but easy access to firearms and the political money that exacerbates the problem.
There is something fundamentally dysfunctional about this situation and the fact that it keeps playing out, over and over, in a sickening loop. It represents nothing less than an American failure.
And it won’t change unless citizens across the country go to the voting booth in 2020 and say, “That’s enough.”