Another week, another shooting rampage. Or two. Or three. The frequency is sickening, and frightening.
And every time it happens, many ask if this tragedy will be the one to bring politicians who bow before the NRA to their senses and finally act to protect people instead of guns.
It’s a question asked by people who live in hope, who believe that evidence can change minds — people who cannot fathom how lawmakers can be rendered so impotent by a loud minority of gun devotees.
It’s a question with an unsettling answer: No number of dead kids, murdered mothers, slain grandparents, slaughtered sons — we’re running out of adjectives of tragedy — will be enough.
It’s also the wrong question.
Our question assumes there is a point at which the outrageousness of defending the ability to kill over the right to live will become clear and those who fight for the gun over the human will change their minds.
It’s not going to happen.
The question we need to ask is this: Why are gun worshippers so afraid?
Not: What are you afraid of? — we know the stock answers of the coming socialist takeover, the Kenyan in the White House, liberals — but why are you afraid?
We know why politicians are so afraid — they’re incapable of standing up against the bullhorn and checkbook of the National Rifle Association and its ilk.
But the people in stores, at fast-food restaurants and walking down the street hugging their precious guns — why do they feel afraid? What insecurity are those long guns supposed to hide?
What compels a person to become so invested in showing off a possession and scaring strangers? Maybe it boils down to what’s the fun of buying, tricking out and owning a fancy gun if it’s just sitting in your house.
But there’s a difference between carrying a holstered handgun — still a bad idea, but I understand it — and trotting out high-powered guns in public places to get a rise out of people.
The latter is immature, selfish and foolish. They say they’re exercising their legal rights — but legal doesn’t mean smart.
These episodes are part of a bigger, more complicated picture.
With each gun murder, the message is reinforced: Shooting is how you resolve conflict, how you express your anger, your revenge. It’s ordinary, accepted, routine.
The NRA and gun fetishists’ ability to make elected officials cower in fear and prevent even the most basic changes to gun laws — like requiring a background check for every gun purchase — is all a person who craves power needs to see.
It’s a potent message, honed with each mass shooting, episode of domestic violence or killing, suicide or argument turned fatal. Nothing changes, and no one is surprised when it happens again.
But remember, this is part of the gun rights strategy — wait the tragedy out, make people feel that it’s hopeless and eventually they’ll give up.
I’ve said this before, I know, but it bears repeating: Giving up on changing our gun laws to better protect our communities isn’t an option. The gun lobby has gone unanswered for far too long, and we’re living — and dying — from the fallout.