Commentary

Here in arsenal America, everything old is new again | Dick Polman

We’ve lost the mental and moral capacity to prevent these bloodbaths

May 30, 2022 6:30 am

UVALDE, TX – MAY 24: Members of the community gather at the City of Uvalde Town Square for a prayer vigil in the wake of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. According to reports, 19 students and 2 adults were killed before the gunman was fatally shot by law enforcement. (Photo by Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images)

So here we go again.

Politicians of all stripes will offer their “thoughts” and “prayers” to the victims’ families. Special-interest groups on the right will cite the latest bloodbath as proof that we need more gun ownership.

And cable television will rerun the same video clips umpteen times, fill the airways with talking ranters, and thus leave the impression that nothing else is happening anywhere in America or overseas, probably for the next week or so, until this latest massacre is flushed down the memory hole.

That’s what always happens. Way back, that’s what happened after two twisted kids shot up the Columbine high school on April 20, 1999. We witnessed the national wringing of hands, the convening of symposia and the ritual assignations of blame – and now we’ll do it again, of course, before settling back into our routines until the next massacre provides a temporary jolt.

Before we numbly move on from one of the worst mass shootings in American history – temporarily topping some of the worst mass shootings in American history, to be topped sooner or later by the next mass shootings – let’s do the drill we know so well: Quotes from on-the-scene survivors. Media kudos to heroes. Biographies of the dead. NRA silence. Congressional nothingness. Rinse ‘n’ repeat.

After all, when tragedy strikes here in the accursed land of locked ‘n’ loaded, it’s deemed “too soon” to say anything else. Then, after all the deaths are tallied and the bodies are buried and we’ve moved on, it’s always “too late.”

More than ever, we’re held hostage by the “pro-life” American ethos: Life begins at conception and ends with a Second Amendment execution.

But what the heck, I’ll go through the motions anyway: What happened this time was a terrorist act greased by a lenient gun-loving state that makes the NRA proud.

We’ve lost the mental and moral capacity to prevent these bloodbaths. The lawmakers quake in perpetual fear that the arms merchants will unleash their wrath on anyone who steps out of line. A nation armed to the teeth has essentially decided that the mass loss of innocents is an acceptable tradeoff for “Freedom.” The innocents’ freedom to live is deemed disposable.

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Conservative commentator David Frum, the former Bush speechwriter, laments: “Like ancient villagers, Americans accept periodic plagues as a visitation from the gods, about which nothing can or should be done. The only permitted response is ‘thoughts and prayers’ – certainly never rational action to reduce casualties in future. Even to open the discussion as to whether something might not be done violates the taboos of decency: How dare you politicize this completely unpredictable and uncontrollable event! It is as if gun violence were inscrutable to the mind of man, utterly beyond human control.”

All we get, in lieu of substance, are worthless words from the gun lobby’s hapless stooges. It’s all part of the drill. I can’t precisely pinpoint when America fully surrendered to benumbed insanity, but I’ll put my money on Sandy Hook. Once we decided that even the slaughter of little kids was acceptable collateral damage, we crossed the line and sold our souls.

The innocents are casualties of a toxic culture that’s out of control. Semi-automatic weapons (known to NRA leaders as “sporting arms”) and high-capacity magazines are growth sectors of the gun market. Remember the NRA’s unspoken message: “Guns are good business. Invest your kids.” Barring a great awakening, there is no going back.

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Regarding the mass murder of 19 kids in Texas, there’s really nothing new to write. That’s why for this column, I’ve merely copy-pasted passages that I have written before. Everything old is new again. Every sentence in this post has been lifted from my previous columns about the 2021 Michigan school shootings, the 2018 Parkland school shootings, the 2017 Las Vegas concert shootings, the 2012 Sandy Hook school shootings, and the 2007 Virginia Tech school shootings. I’ve stitched a Frankenstein monster, as it were.

More than ever, we’re held hostage by the “pro-life” American ethos: Life begins at conception and ends with a Second Amendment execution.

Opinion contributor Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. His work appears on Mondays on the Capital-Star’s Commentary Page. Email him at [email protected].

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Dick Polman
Dick Polman

Opinion contributor Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. His work appears on Mondays on the Capital-Star's Commentary Page. Readers may email him at [email protected]

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