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Data from Glider Maven, via Wikipedia

Mass Shootings and the Political Parties

I was with my mom, watching CNN, when breaking news of the shooting in Florida came in. I turned to my mother and said, “our weekly shooting.” They are now a regular matter. Yet none dares ask why?

President Donald Trump tweeted this in the morning, which is a standard explanation: “So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!”

Yes, Trump, like many Americans is making this about the shooter. Once again, I will not name names. Former Republican Congressman David Jolly got closer to one of the causes with Chris Cuomo. I am paraphrasing Jolly, but he said that Republicans would never do anything about gun control. Partly, it is the National Rifle Association. This is why the bump-stock vote never happened, The NRA will never give an inch. However, he pointed to two other matters. The first is how heavily gerrymandered districts are. Meaning, seats are so safe that politicians on both sides are playing to a small part of the electorate, not the whole of their electorate. They can safely ignore the rest of their voters. This does not matter if the district is deep red or deep blue. It is the same dynamic.

He also said that he believes Democrats are more likely to do something about this. However, when there was a compromise that he, and others achieve, leadership in both parties stopped the process. While Cuomo has to confirm this, and he stated it is part of the job as media, it does not sound that unlikely. This is a fact of life. The Congress is extremely broken, and party before country is a fact of life for both parties.

The conversation rarely gets to this point. And quite frankly, I do not expect it to get here either. WHY? Why is the United States having far more mass shootings than any other country? The easy explanation is that weapons are widely available. The fact that you and I can get guns, legally, with ease is seen as the main explanation. It is a simplistic explanation. Why? Canada for example has a lot of guns too. Last time I checked Canadians do not have to think where the hell do I take cover if gun fire breaks out when I go to the movies, school, concerts, the mall. On the other hand, in the United States increasingly this is something you have to consider.

Yes, crime rates are very low, in spite of what you see on your local television, but you are not imagining this. We have far more frequent mass shootings than we used to. This is not your imagination. This year they continue to climb.

It is always easy to also blame the shooter, and put the onus on the shooter. It avoids the more complex question. What are the underlying social forces that have led to what increasingly feels like a razor’s edge? The growth of white supremacist groups is also part of the same pattern. It betrays growing social tensions.

It is time that we face some facts. There is deep tension in the United States. This is leading to mental health issues, not just with teenagers. But mental health is also the excuse. So is telling friends and neighbors that they should have paid more attention, if you see something, say something…Mass shootings are a symptom.

So is the opioid crisis. While the over-prescription is the easy explanation for people to get addicted, none seems to be asking, why are people getting addicted. We are also facing a lowering life expectancy among while males.

And most people are one pay check away from facing homelessness. They cannot cover an emergency room visit, or for that matter a pricey car repair.

This is what we are facing. Poverty, housing insecurity, fear. It is time to move on from discussing the technicals of a gun. Or giving those in the pocket of the NRA any room to make excuses. It is time we dig deeper. None of this is isolated and betrays a nation on the edge of a major crisis.

Editorial note: A previous version identified the shooter as a white supremacist. Apparently media was pranked.

Written by

Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game.

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