Today’s release of a 911 tape by authorities in Greenwood County, S.C. relating to a mass shooting Tuesday just adds to a mountain of questions without answers regarding a phenomenon that happened four times in recent days: multiple-victim homicides.
National Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea also addresses the situation today, as did WLTX News in Columbia, S.C. This is a much different dilemma than the slaughterhouse atmosphere of Chicago, and Seattle's shooting incident yesterday at the Union Gospel Mission doesn't even come close.
The Greenwood case involved a 27-year-old man named Bryan Sweatt. He called police to say he was “stressed out” and about to take his own life before the line went dead, the Associated Press reported. When police arrived, they found Sweatt dead, along with his girlfriend, Chandra Fields, her parents, Richard and Melissa Fields, and their two grandchildren, William and Tariq Robinson.
Curiously, Sweatt did not kill his 7-month-old daughter or her cousin, or two children from the neighborhood who were there at the time.
Over the weekend, a Chinese immigrant identified as Mingdong Chen, allegedly used a knife to fatally stab his cousin’s wife and her four children in New York. Some gun rights activists were quick to suggest that anti-gun Mayor Michael Bloomberg was curiously silent after that mass slaying because a gun wasn’t involved.
Also over the weekend, an Arizona man identified as Michael Dante Guzzo killed four of his neighbors with a pump-action shotgun. Guzzo then killed himself, and there is some speculation that this mayhem was ignited by a barking dog.
Down in Texas, a man named Charles Everett Brownlow Jr. is in jail, suspected in the slayings of his mother, aunt and three other people including a store clerk and a couple whose child was spared. Brownlow is a real “model citizen” in the sarcastic parlance of police because his background includes convictions for burglary, drug possession, being a felon in possession of a firearm, assault and he had problems with drug addiction.
What none of these stories answers with any clarity is “why?” That goes especially because children were among the victims in three of the four cases.
Background checks would not have stopped the New York slayings, because the murder weapon was a knife. It is not clear where Sweatt got the .44 Magnum he used Tuesday, nor was it explained about the shotgun Guzzo used, which could have been his for a long time. Brownlow could not have cleared a background check, but that evidently didn’t keep him from getting a gun.
Codrea thinks the right questions aren’t being asked, and that a couple of these cases do not fit the anti-gun narrative, so they get short shrift. But can it be that simple?
There is something at work here that goes way beyond gun rights versus gun control. Millions of law-abiding citizens, many with closets and safes full of guns, did not harm anybody this week, or last week, or even last month. Millions of legally-armed citizens didn't shoot anyone in Seattle, South Carolina, Chicago, Texas or anyplace else. The fact that some people evidently cannot handle today’s stresses and act out their frustrations violently is not good reason to legislate against the rights of all gun owners.
However, obsessing over firearms is the easy, lazy alternative to digging in another direction, one that might put more attention on mental health shortfalls than on alleged “loopholes” in current gun laws. It might involve keeping violent felons behind bars.
Gun prohibitionists are so keen on just eroding gun rights as their answer to everything. Maybe it’s time they channel all of that energy elsewhere.