Clete Wetli, Contributor
We’re so desensitized to the violence now.
Today, I was about to be the guest on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” and Dale came running into the studio to interrupt Will Anderson’s show to announce breaking news because Congressman Mo Brooks had just messaged him that he was getting shot at during baseball practice. GOP House Whip Steve Scalise had been hit. The only reason there was a security detail present was because Scalise is in the line of succession to the president. Two Capitol policemen were shot. There were somewhere between fifty and one hundred rounds fired at the YMCA ball field in Virginia. The suspect was shot and died in custody.
I drove home after remarking on the bravery of Congressman Mo Brooks who used his belt as a tourniquet to help one of his fallen colleagues during the shooting. It was surreal. For years, I’ve been highly critical of Brooks’ policies and politics, but I was relieved that he was unharmed and proud of his courage and selflessness in that moment. I fought back tears as I drove and thought about the insanity of what had just taken place.
A few hours later, I took a break from my work and my writing. I checked the news. There was another shooting in San Francisco at a UPS facility. Three dead and then the gunmen killed himself.
Yesterday, at an apartment complex in Huntsville, where I live, there was an armed robbery and a man was pistol-whipped for cash. In my town, it’s not uncommon now to hear of gun violence, drive-by shootings, and murders. Usually, it’s the mass shootings that grab all the headlines.
No one here in Alabama wants to talk about gun control at all, ever. In fact, our legislators have been introducing bill after bill, despite the protests of law enforcement and citizens, to make it easier to carry weapons in public and to relax restrictions on concealed carry. The legislature fought to ensure that citizens could carry their guns in the local public library even though the library wanted to be designated as a “gun-free zone.”
In Alabama, our politicians make sure that their campaign ads show them firing high-powered rifles or hunting some living thing. It seems like it’s been made mandatory; like a picture of the candidate going to church or posing with an artificially, ethnically diverse group of children for no readily apparent reason. Here, you’re either pro second amendment or your grits ain’t fully cooked, if y’all know what I mean. Here, every time there’s any kind of shooting then the answer is there should’ve been more heavily armed good guys around.
So, today there were more shootings on just another day in America. Soon, the politics will start and there will be calls for more gun control and there will be calls for everyone to arm themselves for protection. Then we’ll all pretend it never happened until the next one in a few days time.
What the hell are we going to do about this? How much blood needs to be spilled before we actually take this problem seriously? Do average citizens really need access to military assault-style weapons, enormous ammunition magazines, or semi-automatic, rapid fire weaponry?
The U.S. has the highest small arm ownership rate in the world and is only second to Iraq in the amount of homicides per 100,000 people and leads the world in gun-related suicides.
The debate over the second amendment shouldn’t be a zero-sum game. We can have our constitutional right to own a firearm, but maybe it doesn’t have to be a high-powered military assault rifle. Maybe, just maybe, we can agree on a better system to ensure that we keep guns out of the hands of those who have no business owning them.
Surely, we can find some new common ground because, right now, our common ground is stained with blood and littered with shell casings.