We have to Talk About the Victims Of Gun Violence
I was going to start off on the Walmart shooter of last week who walked into a Walmart and shot it up. He had been living with a bunch of Bibles and no furniture.
But now we've got another guy in Sutherland Springs, Texas, 26 people dead.
We have now reached the point where more people have died in mass shootings in one year than in any other year, a trend that began back in the 1980s and has just burst through.
It is showing the world the fundamental mental illness associated with an industry, in this case the weapons industry, owning an entire political party, so that people can buy weapons that have nothing to do with sports shooting, have nothing to do with hunting, have nothing to do with "tradition" or taking your kids out in the woods or any of that.
Assault weapons. This is crazy.
Senator Chris Murphy spoke out. He said...
"The paralysis you feel right now - the impotent helplessness that washes over you as news of another mass slaughter scrolls across the television screen — isn't real. It's a fiction created and methodically cultivated by the gun lobby, designed to assure that no laws are passed to make America safer, because those laws would cut into their profits. As my colleagues go to sleep tonight, they need to think about whether the political support of the gun industry is worth the blood that flows endlessly onto the floors of American churches, elementary schools, movie theaters, and city streets. Ask yourself - how can you claim that you respect human life while choosing fealty to weapons-makers over support for measures favored by the vast majority of your constituents".
The Colorado killer, a guy named Scott Ostrem, "oh, he was just a loner". He killed three people last Wednesday. But people killed in mass shootings now, with the 26 at the First Baptist Church, the 58 at the Las Vegas Strip, the 48 in the Pulse nightclub, the 14 in San Bernardino last year, it all is adding up to just a genuinely terrible situation.
And there are arguably multiple pieces to this.
We've got the piece of there are too many guns, particularly guns that can kill a lot of people really quickly. Too many weapons of war are floating around on our streets and at the very least we could go back to the rational and practical position that was even supported by the Reagan administration which is, why do we need assault weapons? Assault weapons are for armies and maybe for police departments in some rare situations, but not for the average person. This is crazy.
And then there's another connection here. Steven Paddock, the guy who shot up Vegas, had a habit of berating his girlfriend in public. According to a Quartz Media piece by Max de Haldevang, "Stephen Paddock shared a trait with other mass killers: He abused women." And he just goes through the list. Who were these people?
Omar Mateen - the Pulse nightclub shooter abused his former wife, Seungh Hui Cho - Virginia Tech April 2007 - harassed women, Adam Lanza shot his mother before killing children at Sandy Hook, George Hennard stalked women before he commited mass murder in Killeen, Texas in 1991.
Paddock, reports the Los Angeles Times, regularly demeaned his girlfriend in front of others at the local Starbucks, where they were regulars. "I'm paying for your drink, just like I'm paying for you," Starbucks staff recalled him saying to Marilou Danley.
In more than half of us mass shootings between 2009 and 2016, the killer (almost invariably male) shot a current or former intimate partner or family member.
Now, there's a really important concept here of cultural shift, rapid cultural shift. We're seeing this happen right now with Harvey Weinstein. It has exploded across the scene, and I think in part because Harvey Weinstein was a big "liberal", the right-wing press, the Drudge press and whatnot would give him the coverage that they weren't willing to give to, for example, Bill O'Reilly's sexual indiscretions.
So there's this moment when the press on both the left and the right are vilifying this guy and apparently with good reason, it is causing a cultural shift.
I really think in America that 10 years from now we will look back on this year and say, "you know, that was the year when it became inappropriate for men to harass women in the workplace", basically, and worse obviously.
We see these major inflection points in our culture and things shift and it takes a while for things to shift, but things shift.
If we're seeing that revolution, that change, that shift happening with regard to sexual assault, could we be seeing it with regard to gun assault as well?
Now, there's also a clear association between mass shooters and people who abuse women. So it's almost like these things are coming together.
And with regard to the Weinstein thing, I wonder to what extent does Donald Trump bear some guilt, maybe deserves some credit would be the phrase to use, for Weinstein being outed.
Because it seems that we have, after all these reports of Donald Trump assaulting and even raping some women, or the possibility of it - Trump of course is saying they're all liars - but I think that you know, especially after the Access Hollywood tape came out a lot of Americans are saying, "ok, enough, we're sick and tired of wealthy powerful men abusing people, particularly women who have less power and wealth, not going to happen anymore".
So how do we turn these mass shootings into something similar?
Now, with with women being harassed by men in the workplace, the way that that change is happening is people coming out and saying, "me too", saying, "here's what happened".
And I'm wondering if, when we start seriously telling the stories of the victims, something that the media almost never does - the closest they got to it I think was Sandy Hook, and even then it was like, "oh, we have to give these people space, we have to respect their privacy".
And I'm wondering how much of that meme is being promoted by the NRA. You know, "oh, you can't talk about the victims".
Yes, let's talk about the victims.