There’s some evidence the Highland Park shooter was a Trump fan, including a photo of the killer wearing a Trump flag as a cape and dressed as Waldo at a Trump rally. The shooter also allegedly liked a tweet by President Biden, which right-wingers claim proves he’s a Democrat. The town the shooter attacked has a substantial Jewish population, so some are speculating the murders were a hate crime.
All or none of this may turn out to be true, but here’s one thing we do know right now: If the shooter had not been able to easily obtain an AR-15-style rifle that can spray a street with deadly rounds, he wouldn’t have been able to kill seven people and injure dozens more in a matter of seconds.
The same is true of the Uvalde school shooter, the Buffalo supermarket shooter, the Parkland school shooter, the Pulse nightclub shooter, the Las Vegas music festival shooter, the El Paso Walmart shooter, the Sandy Hook school shooter, etc., etc., etc.
Sometimes we find out shooters had specific motives, like the racist Buffalo and El Paso shooters. A history of domestic violence and misogyny are also common traits among mass shooters. And sometimes, maybe most often, they’re just psychos with no discernable motives.
Motivations aside, these mass shootings are becoming more common, and we need to steer the conversation away from gun rights and toward the right the rest of us have to live in peace and safety. There are some telling quotes from the latest members of the mass shooting survivor club at CNN.
One witness said he and his wife were standing around confused about what was happening when the shots first began, but their children, who had participated in active shooter drills at school, immediately realized what was going on and dove for cover, causing the parents to snap out of it.
One father ran into an alley and put his small children in a metal dumpster to keep them safe, asking strangers who were cowering behind the dumpster to watch the kids while he went looking for the rest of his family. Here’s how another father described the experience:
I ran from a mass shooting today with my two little girls in my arms. We got separated from my wife. We hid behind a car and then sheltered in the apartment of some good Samaritans for 5 hours watching swat teams from the windows. We are all ok but we’re angry, very very angry.
— Hunter Stuart (@Hoont) July 4, 2022
Enough anger can change things, even the Republican-imposed paralysis on guns. As I said here after the Parkland massacre, I believe those of us who are in favor of sane gun laws will win, but not until a critical mass of people realize their own freedom — to send their kids to school, to go shopping, to the movies, to nightclubs, to music festivals, to Fourth of July parades, etc. — is being curtailed by a relatively small group of fanatics and vote accordingly.
Someone — not Churchill — said America almost always does the right thing, eventually, after exhausting all other possibilities. We’ve been exhausting the possibilities, even though the solution to stop this madness has been obvious all along. But I still think we’ll get there. Eventually.