That was the question asked by the brother of Stephen Paddock, the latest American mass murderer whose access to weapons turned whatever madness he had inside into an immense public menace. Of course, our hearts go out to the many, many victims of the carnage, but our thoughts and energies have to turn to prevention. We must implement common sense gun control. I can do no better than to quote Connecticut’s Senator Chris Murphy:
It must be said that nowhere else but in America do these horrific, large-scale mass shootings happen with this degree of regularity. Tragically, this epidemic is uniquely American.
This madness has to stop. And the collective silence from Congress in the face of these mass shootings is complicity — it sends a quiet message that as a legislative body, these murders are something that we are willing to accept.
It’s time for us to stop pretending that there aren’t public policy responses to this epidemic.
There are. And the thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if they are paired with continued legislative indifference. It’s time for Congress to get off its ass and do something.
I am not ashamed to admit that no legislation will suddenly stamp out every act of mass violence in this country. But the excuse that legislative action is not a guarantee that we will prevent future tragedies is just a mask for cowardice, or cold-hearted political calculation.
Should we pass comprehensive background checks? Should we take weapons off the streets that are designed solely to kill lots of people with speed and efficiency? Should we do more to ensure records are getting into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System? Should we act to make sure it’s easier to get mental health care than it is to buy a gun in this country?
Yes. Yes. Yes. To every one of those questions, yes.
At Wesleyan, we can inform ourselves about the role of guns in our history this semester at the Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns. Here’s the schedule.
Human concerns — that’s what will lead us to mourn the victims of this massacre and what must inspire us pass common sense gun control.