It hasn’t even been a week.
Five days after a misogynistic, anti-choice terrorist shot and killed 3 people and injured 9 more at a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, another mass shooting happened today. In San Bernardino, California. At Inland Regional Center-a center that serves more than 30,000 people with developmental disabilities (as well as their families)-three heavily armed terrorists shot and killed 14 people and injured 18. According to authorities, the gunmen looked to be on a mission. They came to the center during a banquet on a mission to commit an act of domestic terrorism-one of the deadliest we’ve had in the United States since the Newtown school massacre in 2012 (yes, we have that here in the United States and it’s a significantly greater threat to the citizens of this country than Islamic extremists).
And it has been less than a week. Sigh.
After the initial shooting, the attackers fled, beginning a manhunt that lasted several hours and ending in a firefight with the police. Two of the three suspects were shot and killed. The third suspect is in custody. All of them had assault rifles and handguns and wore ‘assault-style’ clothes. It is too early to know the motives of the terrorists, but I suspect we’ll find out in the days and weeks ahead.
One thing I do know is that incidents like this Just. Keep. Happening. and as of this writing, we’ve had 355 mass shootings this year and it’s only day #336. On average, we’ve had more than one mass shooting per day this year.
President Obama found himself repeating pretty much the same thing he’s said after the last dozen mass shootings:
“The one thing we do know is that we have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world, and there’s some steps we could take, not to eliminate every one of these mass shootings, but to improve the odds that they don’t happen as frequently,” Obama said.
On Twitter, Bernie Sanders said:
Mass shootings are becoming an almost-everyday occurrence in this country. This sickening and senseless gun violence must stop.
Martin O’Malley also weighed in with a Tweet:
And Hillary Clinton was speaking about the need for greater gun control at the time of the shooting.
— Liz Kreutz (@ABCLiz) December 2, 2015
Across the political aisle, Republicans also responded to the terrorist act. Their response was…a little different.
Praying for those impacted by the shooting in California today.
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) December 2, 2015
California shooting looks very bad. Good luck to law enforcement and God bless. This is when our police are so appreciated!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2015
Praying for the victims, their families & the San Bernardino first responders in the wake of this tragic shooting.
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) December 2, 2015
Praying for the victims and first responders in #SanBernardino for a quick resolution.
— George E. Pataki (@GovernorPataki) December 2, 2015
My thoughts & prayers go out to those impacted by the shooting in San Bernardino, especially the first responders. -John
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) December 2, 2015
Thoughts & prayers are with #SanBernardino
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) December 2, 2015
Our prayers are with the victims, their families, and the first responders in San Bernardino who willingly go into harm’s way to save others
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) December 2, 2015
Praying for all those victimized by the shootings in San Bernardino, California today.
— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) December 2, 2015
My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, families, and brave first responders during this unspeakable tragedy.
— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) December 2, 2015
Notice anything in particular? I mean, aside from the fact that none of them suggested gun control legislation. They all offered their thoughts and prayers. Yeah. Like thoughts and prayers are going to resurrect the people killed. Like thoughts and prayers are going to heal the wounds of those hospitalized. Like thoughts and prayers are going to repair the shattered lives of dozens of people. Thoughts and prayers-especially in combination with absolutely no other action to prevent further incidents of gun violence-are less than useless. And that’s all the GOP has to offer. As always.
As an atheist, I see no value in praying for anything. I see no evidence for the existence of *any* god or gods-not just the Christian god, but also the Aztec gods, the Greco-Roman gods, the Egyptian gods, and more. So praying is just an empty gesture in my eyes. I do understand that prayer does something for the individual praying, but in terms of any actual positive effect on others, or on the world around us, it’s useless. It is not a big deal when the situation is not one of life and death. The ongoing threat of gun violence, however, is a situation of life and death and when politicians-especially those that oppose any measure of gun control-say “our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims”-that comes across as one of the most worthless statements to make. Your prayers are meaningless! Even *if* the genocidal butcher god you worship existed, it’s clear he doesn’t care about protecting anyone or anything in this country from gun violence. Since he doesn’t exist, it’s on US-we USAmericans-to do something about the higher-than-other-countries level of gun violence. And yet, nothing happens. After every single incident of gun violence–Nothing. Ever. Happens. So pardon me for being sick of hearing politicians say “you have our prayers”. They’d rather offer useless prayers than do something substantial to reduce levels of gun violence. Oh, I’m sorry. The prayers aren’t useless. They let people think they’re actually doing something in response to such a tragedy. They give people a false sense of “Hey! I’m doing something!” when they aren’t actually doing one goddamn thing.
Instead of praying, let’s try *doing* something. In an ideal world, we’d eliminate the 2nd Amendment. I’m not a fan of the Second Amendment-at all. I think it is antiquated, and designed for the country as it was centuries ago, not today. If I had my druthers, we’d eliminate the _right_ to own guns and replace it with the _privilege_to own guns. A privilege you have to prove you are worthy of. A privilege you have to demonstrate you are responsible enough to have. One that also means you have to carry insurance if you own a firearm. Also, every gun owner would need to take regular tests (possibly yearly) to determine they are not only proficient with the weapon, but know how to clean it properly, and can demonstrate they know how to store it. I would not allow open-carry gun laws anywhere either. We have too much gun violence in this country-whether its shooting rampages, domestic violence involving guns, suicides, injuries, or what have you, our rates of gun violence are off the charts. I’m far more concerned about the safety of people, than I am about an archaic Amendment drawn up at a time when it was necessary.
(I won’t even start up about the ‘well-regulated militia’ part of the 2nd Amendment).
But since none of those ideas are not likely to happen, we need to do like Australia (in the wake of the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre) and reduce the number of guns in this country. We also need to eliminate all gun purchasing loopholes. No more allowing a kid to buy his gun through his uncle, or online sales that circumvent background checks. We need far better mental health services in this country so that those people with mental illnesses who are potentially dangerous–AND NOT ALL PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESSES ARE A DANGER TO OTHERS–are not easily able to acquire a gun. If the *only* result of reducing the number of guns was that firearm related suicides went down, that would be significant on its own, as guns are the most common-and most lethal-method of suicide. Unlike other options, the use of a firearm can be spontaneous and reduces the length of time a suicidal person can have to think through what they are doing. If we could reduce the number of guns in this country, and make it harder for people to acquire them, I suspect suicide rates would drop. And at the same time, we’d also need to increase access to mental health services so that suicidal people have options and care.
I hate that I’ve grown to the point that I expect there to be multiple incidents of gun violence-especially mass shootings-every week. This isn’t something that people in other developed countries deal with. And it’s largely to do with our gun culture and the saturation and fetishisation of firearms in USAmerican society. This isn’t what people are talking about when they speak about ‘US exceptionalism’, but mass shooting is something we are, sadly, exceptional at.
Update: Fuck. Just as I was about to hit ‘submit’ on this post, I found out further information about the San Bernardino terrorism. This is going to set off the racist bigots in this country something fierce. This is exactly the last thing we needed to happen in the current off the charts anti-Muslim climate in the United States:
Details are emerging about one of the suspects behind today’s deadly shooting in San Bernardino, CA that left at least 14 dead and 17 injured, including one police officer. NBC News reported earlier tonight that Syed Farook was one of the suspects in the rampage at the Inland Regional Center.
Farook’s father reportedly told The Daily News, “I haven’t heard anything. He worked in a county office… He’s married and has a kid. We’re estranged because my wife got the divorce, and they are together. She doesn’t want to see me.”
Farook’s father continued telling The Daily News that he had not spoken to his estranged son in some time, adding, “He was very religious. He would go to work, come back, go to pray, come back. He’s Muslim.”
He’s. Muslim. Fuck. I’m worried shit is going to get even more scary very soon. I’ve chosen to keep this post as is, rather than rewriting it, but this revelation does change aspects of this horrific incident.