Weekly Feature

2017-11-08 / Editorials

Another week, another mass shooting

Managing Editor

Reading and hearing about deadly shootings and random acts of violence in this country are becoming as common as ants around a picnic basket.

Friday, a neighbor of Sen. Rand Paul allegedly assaulted the lawmaker outside his Kentucky home. The attack was brushed aside by an aide.

“The unfortunate occurrence of Nov. 3 has absolutely nothing to do with either’s politics or political agendas. It was a very regrettable dispute between two neighbors over a matter that most people would regard as trivial,” said Matthew Baker, who is representing the alleged assailant.

“We sincerely hope that Sen. Paul is doing well and that these two gentlemen can get back to being neighbors as quickly as possible.”

It’s not likely. Paul suffered five broken ribs in the “trivial” matter.

A couple of days later, an armed military veteran walked into a Texas church and shot and killed at least 26 people in cold blood. In 2012, he was convicted of assaulting his wife and breaking his infant stepson’s skull, according to the New York Times.

He was sentenced in November of that year to 12 months’ confinement and reduction to the lowest possible rank. After his confinement, he was discharged from the military with a bad conduct discharge. It is unclear whether his conviction would have barred him from purchasing a gun, also according to The Times.

The victims of the shooting ranged in age from 18 months to 77, authorities said on Monday. Among the dead were several children, a pregnant woman and the pastor’s 14-year-old daughter.

Why are so many Americans so angry and so desperate that unimaginable violence is their only recourse? Is it a lack of moral education? A lack of self-confidence? A lack of respect for the dignity of our brothers and sisters?

Yet high-powered weapons remain available to the very people who should not be able to acquire them legally. We have the right to bear arms, but not the right to butcher defenseless people in churches, schools and at concerts.

President Donald Trump said Monday the Texas church shooting was a “mental health problem at the highest level,” not a “guns situation.”

It’s the same point he raised in the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas last month. But he has yet to suggest any legislative or policy changes that could have curbed the shootings, according to CNN.

The president seems to oversimplify large-scale tragedies while trying to keep his shaky administration afloat. Tax reform, fears about an attack from North Korea and alleged Russian collusion keep him walking the slipperiest of slopes. All while additional controls over gun purchases are brushed aside like dust in the wind.

It’s been a scant five weeks since a 64-year-old retiree with no real criminal history and no known affiliations with terror groups fired into a crowd at a country music festival in Las Vegas, killing at least 59 people and injuring hundreds more in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

Police said he was armed with 23 guns. Who needs 23 guns or the ability to assemble such an arsenal? I would say with absolute conviction that the Las Vegas incident was, in part, a “guns situation.”

I guess it all depends on who swarms around one’s inner circle. At the White House, the circle is out of touch.

(David F. Sherman is managing editor of Bee Group Newspapers and a columnist for the Weekly Independent Newspapers of Western New York, a group of community newspapers with a combined circulation of more than 200,000 readers. Opinions expressed here are those of the author. He can be reached at dsherman@beenews.com.)

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