It has happened again -- as we knew it would.
According to the Clackamas County Sheriff and news reports, shortly before 3:30 p.m. yesterday, a lone shooter wearing camouflage, an ammo vest and a hockey mask, walked into the Clackamas Town Center shopping mall near Portland, Oregon, yelled “I am the shooter” and began firing at Christmas shoppers. As of this writing, two of those shoppers -- Cindy Ann Yuille, 54 and Stephen Mathew Forsyth, 45 -- are dead. A third victim, Kristina Shevchenko, is in serious condition. The shooter, whose has been identified but will remain nameless in this article, killed himself.
According to initial reports, the shooter's AR-15 assault rifle jammed. However high the final body count, the carnage could have been far worse.
Have We Had Enough?
Have we had enough yet? Are we sad enough -- for the innocent dead and their loved ones? Are we angry enough -- at the unimaginably twisted bastards who randomly snuff out lives and cause life-changing terror in the survivors?
Are we, at long last, tired enough -- of ceding control of our national gun policy to the National Rifle Association and its arms-manufacturer patrons? Will yesterday's shooting press the button in the American consciousness that Aurora, Virginia Tech and Columbine did not? Will the Clackamas Town Center shooting come to be known as the tragedy that finally compelled Americans to demand stricter gun laws from their leaders?
Guns Don't Kill...
The NRA has circled its wagons, no doubt. As soon as news of this most recent gun tragedy hit the wires, I'm sure NRA majordomo Wayne LaPierre and crew began juicing up the NRA publicity machine and sending "don't even think about it" emails to senators and members of Congress who might be tempted to follow their conscience and go rogue. NRA members will call radio talk shows and explain how patriotic Americans need assault weapons to fend off the black-clad minions of Big Government, who want nothing more than to round them up and put them in FEMA concentration camps.
"Guns don't kill people, people do!" LaPierre will shout. Yes, Wayne, people with guns. And when the guns are military-style weapons with high-capacity magazines, such as this shooter’s AR-15, people with guns can do a whole lot of killing before the first 911 call is even dialed.
In October, President Obama, broke his deafening silence on guns and called for the reintroduction of the assault weapon ban. That Obama made this call a month before the election suggests that most Americans agree with him -- and they do. According to a 2011 ABC News poll, 67 per cent of Americans favor a nationwide ban on selling assault weapons, 30 per cent oppose such a ban.
There are so many AK-47-type weapons and high-capacity magazines in America, reintroducing the ban now may not have any positive effect at first. However, the name of the game is "access." The more assault rifles in American gun stores, garages, sheds and bedrooms, the greater the chance that some madman will get his hands on one. For example, yesterday's shooter took the AR-15 from his friend's house. If a ban had been in place, the friend might have been forced to settle for a nice, 15-shot .22 or single-shot deer rifle -- something other than a device specifically designed to kill many human beings quickly and efficiently. Who knows?
We do know, however, that our current policy is not working. Shootings involving assault weapons and/or high-capacity magazines are occurring so frequently that they are beginning to lose their "event" status on TV. Not long ago, coverage of a deadly shooting in a crowded mall would have preempted regular TV programming. Yesterday, it didn't. The shrill grief of victims' friends and relatives echoed through the area as in previous random killings, but the news coverage began to wind down considerably earlier.
It is time to try something else.
And frankly, shouldn't we all be more than a little resentful that our safety in public places has somehow taken a second place to NRA ideology and some of its members' infantile Walter Mitty fantasies?
But even with the President, courageous politicians, such as Dianne Feinstein and a strong majority of our countrymen wanting to outlaw these weapons, there will be no legislation unless the American people loudly demand it.
Most politicians would rather be discovered smoking heroin with a congressional page than incur the wrath of the NRA. Fortunately, the only group politicians fear more than the National Rifle Association is angry American voters.
The question is… have we had enough?