The mass shootings and violence comes so fast and often that they can’t even hold the headlines over a weekend.
Six more kids, this time on Friday in Santa Barbara, were slaughtered by another gunman. One of the victim’s father, Richard Martinez, squarely blamed “craven, irresponsible politicians and the (National Rifle Association)” for fighting realistic gun control.
His son, 20-year-old Christopher Michaels-Martinez, was unluckily standing at a deli near the University of California Santa Barbara campus when last week’s mass shooter, Elliot Rodger, went on a rampage nearby. Fortunately, only 13 students were wounded and six were killed. Sadly, we’re relieved these days when only 20 or so kids are wounded and murdered during mass shootings.
Within hours, Memorial Day traffic stories and the latest on Benghazi pushed news of a mere handful of dead California students off the country’s front pages.
News about crazy people getting guns and terrorizing schools, campuses, malls — and our own private Aurora hell, movie theaters — is so prosaic that it can’t even hold our attention.
Had Christopher’s father, Richard, not become a TV spectacle in his terrifying grief and anger over the loss of his son, the story would have slipped away.
Suddenly, Richard is news. The horrific massacre? Not so much. He is determined to put the blame where it squarely belongs: on politicians and the NRA. Richard, like me, doesn’t want to hear the inane arguments that only the warped shooter is responsible for what he did. We all know Rodger was desperately ill and demented in planning and executing his attack. Rodger did everything but buy air time on the local nightly news to announce that he couldn’t find a girlfriend and was going to kill everyone because of that. As a country, we don’t know how to recognize these threats when they’re banging at the door, and we don’t know what to do if we agree someone is serious trouble. In these cases, we let them buy guns and bullets. It’s their right.
Aside from that, we have created a culture of guns, entitlement and vengeance in a world filled with violent games, movies and music. We’ve cemented the nightmare because the nation has kowtowed to bullies at the NRA, failing to enact even the smallest and least invasive forms of gun control.
Ever since the NRA was taken over by right-wing extremists in the late 1970s, it has become a band of inflammatory bullies that have twisted the U.S. Constitution — for what? To preserve the right of self-protection? No. Their mission is to protect a $12-billion-a-year firearms industry that’s pumping about 16 million new guns into American hands each year.
Don’t look to Washington for help. The NRA made it clear right here in Colorado what the fate is for lawmakers supporting any kind of gun control. Three Colorado legislators were ousted last year after voting for a couple of wimpy gun-control bills. The NRA poured money into the state to oust these lawmakers, showing they’ll attack anyone who dares raise the specter of limiting the size of magazines or arsenals.
Despite the fact that there is no legitimate argument about the Second Amendment having to do only with a once-mistrusted federal army, the law has been warped beyond recognition.
We have created a perfect storm where we breed crazy boys bent on murderous sprees, ignore their blatant threats, and then make it incredibly easy to gun up and shoot ‘em up at places where we are most vulnerable to gun attacks.
And so Richard, drowning in pain over a nearly conspired loss of his son, has made headlines again, demanding we push past the cowards and the tyrants. We may not get action, since the dead this time were so relatively few and weren’t as young as those slaughtered at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but we can at least get answers.
They won’t be the answers we want to hear. Like so many parents of gunned-down American children before him, Richard is asking the same question: How many more innocent people must die before we act on gun control? The NRA’s answer is simple: All of them.
Reach editor Dave Perry at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]