Given the increasing frequency with which these mass shootings have been occurring, it is all too easy to become insensitive to the life-altering impact of such events on those most directly involved—the victims and survivors and their families, friends, and co-workers.
But until someone discovers a way to transform these cumulative shocks to the national consciousness and conscience into the political will to start taking meaningful steps toward reducing their likelihood, we are left with nothing but the platitudes of regret and a mordant curiosity about how the gun zealots will continue to rationalize—to spin politically–the continuing slaughter of Americans by Americans.
There have been widespread denunciations of BlackLivesMatter for demonizing police and for placing all of them, whether dedicated or irresponsible, at much increased risk. But many of these same people have themselves been engaging in an unremitting and unmitigated demonization of Planned Parenthood. They have also been adamantly opposed any effort to restrict the ability to purchase and to carry firearms. Indeed, despite the much intensified rhetoric about terrorist threats following the massacres in Paris, the gun zealots have continued to obstruct even the consideration of legislation that would prevent those on the federal Terrorist Watch List from purchasing firearms. (The justification? Someone incorrectly added to the Terrorist Watch List might be prevented from immediately purchasing a firearm.)
So, I suspect that at least some of those holding this mix of very obdurate positions may have a great deal of difficulty coming to an ideologically satisfying, never mind actually coherent, attitude toward this latest mass shooting. Now that the shooter has surrendered rather than dying by his own hands or being killed by police, one wonders whether there will be a greater or lesser impulse to try to transform him into some sort of martyr. Will the deciding factor simply be whether more of those whom he has shot turn out to have been employees or clients of Planned Parenthood, police officers, or unintended victims?
All of the presidential candidates who have been very active tweeters on just about anything for which President Obama might possibly be blamed have thus far been very notably silent on this incident.
My guess is that the continuing existence of Planned Parenthood will ultimately be blamed for everything that has occurred. So, without any sense of shame or irony, some of the members of the “kamikaze caucus” in the U.S. House may very well call again for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, this time as a way to reduce the frequency of these mass shootings.
Lastly, although I am glad that the police handled this situation as they did, I can easily understand why African-Americans who have been watching these events unfold over the course of this afternoon and evening might not be able to stop themselves from wondering out loud why a guy with an assault rifle, who had shot at least a dozen people–including four or five police officers–somehow managed to walk out of the building in which he had barricaded himself and to surrender–without being gunned down by the police. After all, beyond his continuing to shoot at the police, they had much reason to suspect that he may have planted explosive devices around the Planned Parenthood offices, and they could very reasonably have been concerned that he somehow had such a device on his person when he was surrendering.
To be clear, I am not suggesting that the police should have gunned him down. But I am suggesting that if these police officers did not see a need to shoot him, it should be obvious why the reasons offered for shooting an ever-lengthening list of unarmed or more lightly armed African-Americans should be accepted at least a little less readily at their face value.