As Apple rolled out its new iPhone and Tacoma employees learned that flip-flops were not proper work attire (who knew?), gunshots and explosions took scores of lives in some of the world’s most violent places.
Africa: Alleged al-Shabab terrorists used explosives and gunfire to kill as many as 62 people in a Kenyan shopping mall on Saturday, an incident that has yet to conclude (TNT 9/23).
Iraq: News reports indicate 120 people were killed in several explosions in Baghdad last week (TNT 9/22) in the latest round of sectarian violence.
Pakistan: Two suicide bombers killed a reported 78 worshippers at a Christian service in Peshawar. At least 120 others were critically injured, including women and children (TNT 9/22).
No wonder we don’t like to read the news. The world is going to hell, we tell ourselves, content in the knowledge that life in such places is cheap. Unfortunately, that justification leaves little room to explain the following stories from this past week:
Chicago: Thirteen people, including a 3-year-old boy, were injured during a drive-by shooting, the latest in a string of gang-related shootings in that city.
Washington, D.C.: A mass shooting by a lone, deranged gunmen left twelve dead in a naval facility located in the heart of the nation’s capital (TNT 9/22).
While the number of recent deaths in the U.S. don’t come close to those in the Middle East and parts of Africa, these statistics are still shocking – and embarrassing. For a country which purports itself to be the leader of the free world, our rate of gun homicides has many other nations, developed and otherwise, wondering why the U.S. seems to blithely tolerate the rampant victimization of our citizens in public places by deranged, angry and often well armed lunatics.
Good question. In the past few days, columnists have been tripping over each other to ask, and, of course, to answer it.
Charles Krauthammer points out that the Naval Yard shooter was only armed with a shotgun (forgetting about the other firearms he collected during his rampage) and that he would have locked up the shooter, Aaron Alexis, in a psych ward well before he could have harmed anyone.
Kathleen Parker laments the killings while citing mass shooting statistics as a miniscule percentage of gun deaths. What a relief that must be for the families of slain victims.
Leonard Pitts shakes his metaphoric head and wonders if we as a country are, perhaps, insane. Future historians may get a laugh out of that one, before adding the “Duh.”
Even a TNT editorial looked at the faulty mechanism which gave the shooter access to a secure naval facility in the first place. Interesting question, but if Alexis truly had murder on his mind there were plenty of unsecured malls packed with ready made victims from which to choose.
What should be obvious by now is that this latest iteration of the mass shooting is simply one more example of Einstein’s apt view on insanity – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Isn’t that what we have been doing?
The astute reader will note that I have not provided a solution myself. What would be the point? We have already exhausted the rhetoric on gun control, already debated enhanced background checks, and pummeled the assault rifle and magazine limitations legislation into the ground. It has gotten us nowhere.
Yet if our goal is to reduce gun violence, then we must recognize that the status quo is not working. If we are truly the noble and inclusive society we would like to think we are, one should expect we would all be willing to try something – anything – different. We should all be willing to give up something, to find compromise, to take a risk or a leap of faith on a different game plan in the hopes that even a partial solution might be out there.
If not, that rising number of gun homicides (11,078 in 2010) will soon have a new location and body count to add to places like Washington, D.C., Newtown, Aurora, Virginia Tech, etc., etc., etc. And our country will continue its pointless bickering.
And the world will shake its head.