What is acceptable and what is not?

It’s time for us to face some cold, hard facts and stop pretending otherwise.

After 9/11/2001, we quickly concluded that we would not tolerate that kind of attack on innocent lives again. We developed the Department of Homeland Security, federalized security screenings at airports, and even launched a war against a terrorist group based in Afghanistan. We can debate whether these actions were effective, but we took them. After Richard “Shoe Bomber” Reid tried to blow up a plane by stuffing explosives in his shoes, we changed how TSA does things at airports. Again, we can debate whether we should have to take our shoes off, but we did something because we weren’t going to tolerate the possible destruction of another airliner.

But when it comes to guns, we as a nation don’t give a damn about mass shootings. In 2012 alone, there have been seven mass shootings (defined as at least four people killed in a public place). Two of them occurred in the same week of this month. Despite the prevalence of mass shootings over the last 20 or 30 years, we don’t change anything.

So let’s at least admit one thing to ourselves as a nation: we value the right to own firearms with very few restrictions so much that we are willing to tolerate mass killings on a regular basis.

To us, the risk of a terrorist flying an airplane into a building or blowing the plane up is more of a concern than:

  • a gunman shooting twenty kindergartners in an elementary school
  • a gunman shooting ten people in a shopping mall
  • a gunman shooting thirty people in a movie theatre
  • a gunman shooting six people in a church or synagogue
  • a gunman shooting fifteen people in a factory or office
  • a pair of gunmen shooting fifty people in a high school
  • a gunman shooting twelve people at a college football game

Some of those incidents haven’t happened yet. Neither has a terrorist blowing up a plane as Richard Reid tried to do. We’ve taken steps to prevent an act like his, but we won’t take steps to prevent the others—even though we know they will happen.

We should not be proud that our national mindset is willing to accept mass shootings.


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