America was rocked once again with an all-too-familiar tragedy on Thursday, when yet another shooter took yet more victims in what has become a sickening pattern. Oregon police are still putting together the pieces, but the devastation is clear – at a small community college in southwestern Oregon, a gunman killed at least 13 people and wounded around 20 more before being killed himself.
According to researchers who study mass shootings, Oregon’s will be the 294th mass shooting in just 274 days. America now averages more than one 4+ victim shootings a day.
The sheer obviousness of America’s gun problem and our inability to do a single thing about it, had President Obama, whose presidency must seem to him like a never ending series of somber statements expressing condolences to gun shot victims’ families, was “visibly angry and frustrated” when he hastily met reporters in the press briefing room to speak about Oregon. His anger was understandable.
Despite the daily massacre happening on American streets due to guns, Congress has stonewalled any attempt to even tweak gun laws to make them better. Instead, Republicans – flush with NRA cash – have actually spent the last few years rolling back many existing gun restrictions – an act comparable to enthusiastically pouring more water onto the decks of an already sinking ship.
In his remarks, Obama didn’t hold back from addressing those gun lovers who invariable say that the days after a mass shooting aren’t the time to talk about gun legislation.
“Each time this happens I’m going to bring this up. Each time this happens I am going to say we can actually do something about it. But we’re going to have to change our laws… I hope and pray I don’t have to come out again during my time as president to offer my condolences.”
Sadly, the president, the reporters, and all of us at home can already know for certain that he will be asked to speak out after yet another shooting – and probably soon.
He also took a few moments to systematically dismantle some of the right-wing talking points that inevitably follow any mass shooting. “We need weaker gun laws.” “More guns make us safer.” Obama’s response:
“There is a gun for roughly every man, woman, and child in America. So, how can you with a straight face make the argument that more guns will make us safer? We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths, so the notion that gun laws don’t work, or will make it harder for law abiding citizens and criminals will still get guns is not borne out by the evidence.”
Obama also took Congress to task for their cowardice regarding gun laws. The blood of thousands of victims are on their hands, because of their inability to stand up to the NRA and radical gun nuts in the Republican Party.
“This is a political choice that we make. To allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction.”
Obama was actually being too generous with the frequency. Mass shootings on the scale of Oregon may only happen every so often, but mass shootings more generally happen almost daily. As the Washington Post noted:
We’ve gone no more than eight days without one of these incidents this year. On six days in September, there were 3 mass shootings or more. If the initial casualty figures in Oregon hold up, that would bring the total of deaths by mass shooting this year to 380 so far, with well over one thousand injured.
The president has shown time and again that he is willing to act on strong gun legislation. His repeated calls to address the rampant gun violence in the country have been repeatedly ignored by the legislative branch. Is it too soon to talk about gun control? The victims in Roseburg, Oregon. – And in Newtown, Aurora, Charleston, Chicago, Lafayette, the list goes on – would suggest that it wasn’t soon enough.
Featured image via YouTube