Opinion

Editorial: America’s parade of gun violence comes to Orange, Calif.


So now it’s the city of Orange’s turn in the gun violence spotlight. Four shot dead, including a 9-year-old boy, and a woman wounded late Wednesday afternoon. The alleged shooter is in the hospital too, wounded in an exchange of gunfire with responding police, officials said.

Orange police asserted Thursday morning that the shooting arose from a possible business or personal relationship. But the motive is less significant than the act, and the use of a firearm, and the fact that four people slaughtered in a hail of gunfire is not a rare occurrence in this country, as it is in most of the rest of the world. Because here in the land of the free, we accept such tragedies with “thoughts and prayers” and demands for change. But sympathy isn’t tangible, and demands get you nowhere without action and the marshaling of political power.

The U.S. Senate plans to take up a bill the House passed to expand background checks for would-be gun buyers, but with Senate Republicans ready to filibuster it, well, that piece of legislation isn’t likely to fare any better than the scores of failed gun control proposals that preceded it. In fact, gun sales tend to increase after high-profile shooting incidents.

So far, those who want to make us all safer from gun violence have not been able to budge 2nd Amendment absolutists who believe that enacting laws to slow the flow of implements of mayhem into the wrong hands and the wrong places somehow translates into the triumph of tyrannical government. Or something like that. It can be hard to fathom the logic behind a willingness to let people die in service of a myth.

We note, too, that Wednesday’s deaths are being called the third mass shooting in recent weeks, following the massacres at three spas around Atlanta that killed eight people, six of them Asian women, and the killings of 10 people by a gunman at a Boulder, Colo., supermarket. But that mixes up the terminology, and the count.

The Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people other than the gunman are shot, whether they live or die. Under that definition, Wednesday’s attack in Orange was the 120th of the year. But the archive also counts 48 people killed and 10 others injured in eight mass murders so far this year, incidents in which four or more people are shot dead, not including the shooter.

As we’ve noted before, these mass shootings and mass killings grab the public spotlight, but the real carnage plays out in ones and twos and threes, often in domestic settings and usually leaving devastated relatives and friends to try to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives. As of early Thursday, the violence database counted at least 91 people killed and 183 wounded in the previous 72 hours. And because that count relies on sifting through public reports, the totals often lag — for instance, the four dead in Orange had yet to get entered.

So pick your statistics. Each evinces an obscene level of routine gun violence in this country, a pace that varies by region but generally is higher in states with loose gun laws and lower in states with tighter regulations. But obviously, even here in California, with some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, we are not immune to this national public heath scourge.

What does all this cost us? Well, in human lives, more than 40,000 people last year died of bullet wounds, whether fired in a random encounter, by an intimate partner, by accident or by themselves. Tens of thousands more suffered injuries, some so grievous as to change the course of their lives. All, no doubt, leaving unseen psychological scars and, in the case of child witnesses of gun violence, often increasing the odds that they will engage in criminal behavior as adults.

What does it cost in dollars? It’s hard to get a clear estimate, but the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety estimates about $280 billion a year spent on emergency response and medical treatment arising from gun violence.

That’s the broad context of gun violence in America — lots of easy-to-obtain guns, political stalemate blocking any meaningful change in federal law, daily carnage that amounts to tens of thousands of people killed or maimed each year with many more suffering far into the future, and exorbitant public costs to respond to that carnage and treat the victims.

But in Orange today the broad context fades into the background as yet another set of families grieves the needlessly dead.




Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button