There was a time in America when deaths, other than for natural causes, could be more easily understood. Someone got killed during a crime, a domestic violence turned bad, a woman got tired of being beaten by a man, life became too much and a person ended theirs, a hunting accident, a misfire while cleaning a gun, and such. But I simply cannot remember any incident involving someone taking a firearm and setting out to kill as many people as possible before someone took theirs.
That is, until 1966. That was the year when a twenty-five year old student and former Marine climbed atop the University of Texas’ clock tower and with multiple weapons for ninety-six minutes rained death and destruction to those below. When it was over thirteen people were dead and thirty more wounded.
That was forty-nine years ago and what so shocked us then is still shocking us today, even though it occurs today on an almost weekly basis. So far this year, 2015, we have experienced forty-five mass shootings in the United States and with each we collectively express our outrage, our disgust, and our lack of understanding.
What we don’t do is come to agreement over what we’re going to do about it. President Obama recently said that nothing will change until our political leaders decide it will change and that doesn’t seem too likely. The NRA and other pro gun right-wing groups have so radicalized the issue of Second Amendment rights that there is a vocal portion of the citizenry who are so totally entrenched in their “more guns are better” mentality that we can’t have a meaningful discussion. There is a much weaker and less financed element on the left that is maybe just as entrenched in ridding America of all guns.
The politicians don’t seem interested in pursuing solutions because the gun lobby and its NRA minions are so financially powerful the pols won’t risk taking them on. Even appearing to be against the arms industry is enough to cost one their career in politics.
In the meantime the killings go on, the gun nuts continue their “not from my dead fist” defense, and America continues to not question why we are so much worse off than other nations where people own guns. We refuse to look elsewhere and consider how the examples of Canada, Australia, Great Britain, and others could be adapted for our needs.
So what we have, and will continue to have, is a culture in which we will almost weekly collectively express our horror while as best we can, avoid walking past any college clock towers.