And, of course, the other pandemic is that of mass shootings in the United States.
After the last year of shutdowns, social isolation, and fear of the COVID-19 virus, there were no mass shootings in public places in 2020; mass shootings are defined by the FBI as four or more victims in a single event. But now that COVID-19 and social isolation are coming to an end, at least in the minds of many of our citizens, mass shootings in public places can be expected to increase.
In the last two weeks, there have been the widely reported shootings in Atlanta (8 deaths) and in Boulder (10 deaths).
In addition, there were at least five other mass shootings that received little reporting over the same period. Those shootings were in Stockton, California (5 victims); Gresham, Oregon (4 victims); Houston, Texas (5 victims); Dallas, Texas (8 victims); and Philadelphia (6 victims). Of those 27 victims, two were killed – the rest suffering various degrees of injuries.
We have become so inured to shootings that none of those other five incidents were reported beyond local or regional news.
The full explanations of the motivations of the Atlanta and Boulder shooters have yet to be reported.
The Atlanta shooter appears to be a religious fundamentalist with racist views toward Asian women; the Boulder shooter appears to be a mentally ill immigrant from Syria who feared anti-Islamic violence (and on the latter, unfortunately we can expect there to be violence against Muslims in revenge for the Boulder killings).
One can anticipate “thoughts and prayers” from Congress, and “now is not the time to discuss how to resolve this” from the NRA. In other words, the same old shit as in all the other killings that have occurred.
I’ve written about the mass killings over the years and the story is the same. Promises from smarmy Democrats to do something this time; fear-mongering from cynical Republicans about anything related to even minimal reforms being the first step toward confiscation of all guns.
Can we dispense of one issue for all time – and that is the supposed concern about confiscation?
First, about 40 percent of gun sales are through private sales or gun shows – where there are no records. The other 60 percent are through licensed dealers. Buying a gun through a dealer, which requires a three-day holding period, is documented on ATF 4473, which is required to be held by the retail gun seller for 20 years.
Sounds ominous, right?
But that paper record is the only long-term record of the transaction; the online background check that is part of the holding period must be deleted in 24 hours. So, there is no master database anywhere that would allow the black helicopters to swoop in and take your guns.
The ATF would have to visit the roughly 60,000 licensed dealers and seize all their ATF 4473 forms – any such attempt would be futile given the gun dealers would likely claim all records were lost in a fire or misplaced.
And the issue will soon go away with talk of illegal immigration at the southern border.
I am so tired of this.
A violent society that tolerates mass murder at home and practices it abroad is one that has chosen its road to death.