I didn’t want to write about mass shootings in the United States today. I’ve written way too many posts about this in the past, most recently about the Atlanta-area shootings last week.
But here we are again, mourning the deaths of ten people, including a responding police officer, at a Boulder, Colorado supermarket. A suspect is in custody, but it is early in the investigation so many details are not yet public.
It is likely that this will become the third Colorado mass shooting to lodge in the nation’s consciousness along with the high school in Columbine and the movie theater in Aurora.
The list of mass shootings in the United States is so long that only some of them are invoked as a litany. I live near Binghamton, New York, which suffered a 2009 mass shooting at the American Civic Association. This post that I wrote for the fifth anniversary of that shooting explains why I think Binghamton is not part of that litany.
There has long been a majority of the public in favor of taking measures nationally to curb gun violence. Some of the proposals are universal background checks to purchase firearms, limits on size of ammunition clips, banning of military-style assault weapons, and requiring gun licensing. At this point, each state has its own laws with some allowing municipalities to enact stricter regulations and others not.
There are also proposals to better diagnose and treat mental health issues. Some mass shooters, such as the one in Binghamton, suffer from mental illness. The biggest potential reduction in deaths from firearms related to mental health would be from self-inflicted shootings. In the United States, suicides account for the largest percentage of gun deaths every year. (For help with issues about suicide in the United States, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ .)
What compounds the recent tragedies in Atlanta and Boulder, though, is that there will be sadness, outrage, prayers, vigils, fundraisers, and hopes that this will be the time when Congress finally takes action – and they won’t. Again.
And then, inevitably, there will be another mass shooting which gets attention and hundreds of other murders and thousands of suicides which won’t.
And the cycle will repeat.