Well, here we go again. Another mass shooting disaster. We’ve once again increased our world leading tally. This one’s closer to home. Highland Park. Michael Jordan’s former hometown.
Seven (as I write this) were killed, somewhere around three dozen were injured, and who knows how many, including so many children, are traumatized and for who knows how long.
Sad reality but from the time I’m writing this until the time you read this, there’s a good shot … er, let’s change that to “chance” … there will be another one. Or maybe more than one.
As of the July 4 massacre in Illinois, the number of mass shootings is at 314. That’s only 24 from the total for the entirety of last year. And last year was the highest total in recent years. A “mass shooting” is generally, though not universally, considered to be four or more people shot at one time as part of one incident.
The number of deaths in these kinds of incidents far exceeds the number of deaths perpetrated by foreign terrorists, even with the huge number who perished on September 11, 2001.
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I heard a commentator recently say that if what happened in Highland Park (or Uvalde, or any of the others) was done by foreign actors, we’d be figuring out which country to bomb or invade.
After terrorist hijackings and the heinous events of Sept. 11, Americans have accepted infringements on our personal rights — personal and baggage searches, dogs sniffing us, and other “infringements” — as we travel.
But with our own home-grown brand of domestic terrorism, we still seem to do no more than collectively shrug, or back into our perspective ideological corners. Nothing happens to protect us from this uniquely American phenomenon of mass shootings.
On an encouraging note, after the Uvalde massacre there was some actual progress, not much but some, made on the national level to correct the sad circumstance we find ourselves in regarding the slaughtering of our citizenry by guns.
And to me, as well as many others, guns are the real issue. Certainly the military grade ones created to wreak havoc in war and which seem to be the weapons du jour of so many of our domestic shooters.
Right-wing gun advocates (not all gun owners are “right-wing”) like to point to mental health care, or lack thereof, as a major issue in the mass shooting tsunami in our country.
Most of the mass shooters in our country are not clinically mentally ill. Troubled? Beyond a doubt. Twisted? For sure. But not necessarily mentally ill. And besides, many who champion gun rights in Congress hardly are champions for mental health expenditures.
Case in point — try and find a mental health facility or in-patient facility near Uvalde. There are a zillion health professionals available there now, but before?
For people in Uvalde and other more rural areas of Texas you “ … might as well be living on the other side of the moon” if you are trying to access mental health services, says the dean of Education and Human Performance at Texas A&M University.
To me, there’s a high level of hypocrisy from Gov. Greg Abbot and other Texas Republicans. Gun deaths are mental health issues, but, by the way, we really don’t spend much money on that kind of thing. Socialism I guess?
We don’t have any more mentally ill, or disaffected, or struggling, or confused, or angry, or isolated, of internet addicted, or easily led young men than other country. Why don’t they have the same plague of gun violence as we do?
I just said it. Guns.
When the majority of Americans favor tighter background checks and controls or outright bans of military-style weapons in civilian hands, why don’t we have those things? Uniformly throughout the whole country?
Our voices are heard through our elected representatives. Those in the House of Representatives have passed stricter gun regulation. But to become a law, the same must be passed by the US Senate.
Therein lies the rub.
I don’t often contact my senators or representative on gun matters because I know where they stand on these issues and I’m in agreement.
But more Senators need to see the insanity of what’s going on and take simple steps to limit the damage. Universal background checks, banning, or at least limiting, military-style weapons and the extended ammunition clips (you need thirty shots to fell a deer?)
But the Senators, for many of you reading this, are Senators who prevent change from happening. Todd Young and Mike Braun are staunch gun advocates, darlings of the NRA, purveyors of the idea of making our schools into fortresses (how do you do that for a parade?).
These two need convincing that common sense gun legislation would not infringe on our rights and that gun legislation would not be the beginning of “the Government coming for your guns.” It just might be the beginning of fewer mass shooting tragedies.
We’ve made some baby steps in the right direction with recent federal legislation, but we need more. Let Todd and Mike know people think more needs to be done. They’re part of that happening … or not happening.
Because who’s next? I was at the Whiting Fourth of July parade when I heard about Highland Park.
Things have to change.
Thanks for reading.
George Grenchik, a Whiting native, taught junior high for 41 years and is an active longtime resident of Calumet City. He can be reached at email@example.com. The opinions are the writer’s.