In my reporting career, I have covered seven American mass murders – one in 1989 in Stockton, and the rest in the last decade.
One was a guy parking his SUV in front of a commuter train (25 dead). The rest were committed with guns, usually by deranged drifting people – all men, five of them white – who had remarkably easy access to high-powered guns.
I don’t know what more there is to say about these events. Seriously. They’re now so common that they have devolved into babble-fodder for our politico-cultural wars on the toxic battlefield of 24-hour cable news. Such a network, I suspect, could plan its profitability around the certainty of a boost in viewership from a couple of these events every year.
Somehow, despite all the talk, we never get around to doing anything about it.
We talked a lot but did nothing meaningful after Tucson and Aurora. Then 26 kids were shot to death at an elementary school and we did nothing. We did talk a lot, though.
People nowadays fall into rote after these events, saying profound things that have devolved into cliches from overuse.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out …” That’s a deep, poetic thing to say – that my thoughts and prayers I’m sending out in hopes they will soothe you and bind your wounds, that I am feeling for you and hope that in doing so it will lessen your pain. Yet it sounds trite any more.
I used to think that seven mass murders was a large number of mass murders to have covered in one’s reporting career.
Now another lost and drifting lunatic kills nine people in a church. A guy who by 21 is going nowhere, who apparently at one point had been abusing Suboxone (a heroin-addiction treatment). This time the guy has a racial animus.
Terrorist? I guess. Probably. Who knows?
“He looks bored,” one little girl I know said, upon seeing his mugshot. That’s sounds about right. His dad, bugging him to get a job, may have given him a gun for a 21st birthday present. Who does that? And why? To give him some direction in life? I don’t have the slightest idea why someone would do that.
(NOTE: It was later reported that Dylann Roof had, in fact, purchased the gun himself that he used in the church.)
I don’t know what to say any more about people who do these killings, or legislators who won’t do anything about these events, or 24-hour cable news babble, or dads who give their lost sons guns for presents, or a country that so easily moves on.