The Person You Have to Fear Is the Guy Next Door with a Gun

The mass-shooting-of-the-week in America that took place in a church in a rural Texas town Sunday morning follows what has become an all-too-familiar pattern in our nation these days: An unhappy white guy, with no particular axe-to-grind, decides to slaughter a bunch of innocent people who are in a church, at a country music concert, or shopping in a Walmart.

There is no particular motive for these mass killings. The shooters are not revolutionaries, they are not affiliated with any foreign terrorist organization, and they are not mentally ill. They are white men shooting other white people.

It is in our nature as human beings to seek a reason behind a seemingly random act of violence. We take comfort in knowing what might have motivated a killer, even if we discover that the only motivation may have been that the person was mentally ill.

When we learned that the person who drove his truck into the bike lane in Manhattan last week, killing eight innocent persons, apparently was inspired by ISIS, that was a fact pattern all Americans could understand. It comports with our view of the world — ISIS is our enemy and they are out to kill all of us. Case closed, so to speak.

Further, inasmuch as that murderous person was of foreign origin and had a long beard, understanding his motivation gives us a feeling of security. If we can avoid people who don’t look like us or who have different beliefs than ours, we will be safe. We convince ourselves that if we can just live in our own little bubble, we can avoid the evil that is out there in the big, bad world.

But it should be clear by now to all Americans that the type of person we really have to fear, the one who is a threat to all of us, is the white guy next door who owns one or more of those semiautomatic, military-grade weapons and who on a whim can mow down dozens of people within a few minutes.

The NRA and their bought-off politicians who oppose banning these weapons always are telling us, “It is disrespectful to talk so soon after a mass killing to bring up this issue.”

But inasmuch as there is a mass-killing-of-week these days, whenever will it be the right time?

The nation of Australia, whose gun-culture and notion of rugged individualism parallels ours, took the common-sense step of banning such weapons in the aftermath of a slaughter of 35 innocent victims in 1996. Since that time, there has not been ONE mass shooting in that country.

Until we ban military-grade weapons of mass destruction in this country, does anyone doubt that these incidents of mass shootings of our own people will go on…and on…and on….? The quote from the old Pogo comic strip has never been more appropriate: “We have met the enemy — and he is us.”

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