Commentary: What will make the shooting stop?

The Rev. Nick Boke

By Nicholas Boke

Let’s see where the action is this morning. Ah. A shopping mall in El Paso. Again. Just across the street from the Walmart where 23 people were murdered in 2019. The earlier shooting was racist. There’s no clear motive for this one yet.

Better check in on that Michigan State University shooting a couple of days ago. Nope, no motive yet, but apparently the gunman had planned to shoot up a couple of New Jersey public schools.

It’s all OK, though. El Paso’s interim police chief explained, “There is no more danger. I want to repeat that: There is no more danger to the public.”

Hmm. How many does that make? USA Today lists 71 mass shootings since Jan. 1 — oops, they didn’t include the recent El Paso incident. (I wonder how many there will be before this op-ed is published.)

I guess it could be worse. I mean it’s a matter of around 110 people killed and two or three times that many wounded. Then add the trauma of those who lost a family member, or were near the shooting, or heard the story from a bystander or a wounded person, or watched a wiggly phone-video online or on the evening news. You know: the rest of us.

But I, like most Americans, have long passed the time when I’ll think, “Maybe, just maybe, this time somebody will do something.” I gave up on that not long after I realized that there would never be a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian situation, a few years before New Zealand banned assault weapons after one (count ‘em: one) mass shooting at a mosque.

That was a bit before our national legislators decided to stop offering “thoughts and prayers.”

But here we are, being told by—I’m sure—a very well-meaning police chief that, “There is no more danger to the public.”

Here’s what I want to know.

I want to know what those people think is going to happen. You know, the people who are fighting any kind of gun control in any form, who’ve decided to arm themselves and school teachers rather than limit the kind of guns people can own, who keep insisting that it’s about people misusing guns not guns themselves, who won’t even support universal background checks or magazine limitations.

What do they think will come of all this?

Do they think these mass murders will somehow just stop, that White supremacists and xenophobes and other deeply troubled people will one of these days realize that it’s just not nice to randomly kill people, then lock their gun safely in a closet and start binge-watching “Cheers” re-runs?

I’m wondering something bigger than that: I wonder what they think will happen to America if such predictably unpredictable violence continues unabated. I’m trying to imagine what America  will be like if this goes on; what it would be like to live in a country where one could assume that somewhere not too far away somebody will bring an automatic weapon to a shopping mall or a school or a parade and open fire. Where the best advice on some sunny day when you’re out for a stroll will be “Run! Hide! Fight!”

Is that what people who resist any kind of gun control are imagining?

A Michigan State professor, after that gunman had shot some of his students, said, “I’ve never seen so much blood” and legislators “would be shamed into action” if they had witnessed the “horrendous” attack.

Is that what we’re waiting for? Some kind of tipping point? Something to make everybody realize that America is just too dangerous, a place where nobody’s safe, and nobody will be able to pursue any kind of happiness.

Or do anti-gun control people think that America is stuck with its on-going blood-bath?

Nicholas Boke is a freelance writer and international education consultant who lives in Chester.

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  1. Mike Blackledge says:

    You have been able to express that which I only could think about in a very thoughtful and expressive way, and I commend you for it! Thank you very much!
    mb, Charlestown