by Gary Thompson
It’s happened again. A crazed American has taken it upon himself to take the latest and greatest military-style, light, weapon technology to rain death and destruction on other, innocent, Americans.
Every time I hear about one of these tragic events, I’m reminded of that Neil Young song, performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young called “Ohio.” While the song was originally written in protest of the heavy hand of the Ohio National Guard in response to protests against the Vietnam War at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, the sentiment resonates today.
Reflect on these lyrics for a moment:
Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?
While these lyrics accuse soldiers of the deadly attacks, you may wonder how this applies to crazed but private American citizens. The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, to which gun advocates attribute their right to purchase and hold these weapons, states:
“A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.”
This right is bestowed upon private citizens in order to maintain a militia. A militia is a military force that is raised from the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency. That makes American gun owners de facto members of a U.S. militia; therefore, they are soldiers.
Three of the deadliest shootings in U.S. history have occurred within the past decade, and the 10 deadliest shootings began with the University of Texas (Austin) shooting in 1966. That event was strikingly similar the most recent event in Las Vegas.
ABC News tells us that “U.S. Marine sniper [perpetrator] lugged a cache of rifles, pistols and a sawed-off shotgun up to the observation deck of the university’s landmark clock tower. He then fired at will, striking unsuspecting students. He killed 14 people and wounded at least 30.”
I redacted his name to avoid aggrandizement, or to power this mass murderer’s reputation.
That scene was remarkably similar to the recent shooting in Las Vegas: multiple weapons with the shooter in a vantage point high above a crowd and firing at will. Why was he able to ‘only’ kill 14, and wound 30 people, while the shooter in Las Vegas was able to massacre over four times as many and wound over 10 times as many victims?
Two answers come to mind, and one is crowd size. The crowd at UT consisted of the normal population of the university going about their daily business that morning. In Las Vegas, the gathering was much larger, consisting of a crowd gathered for an outdoor music festival.
The second is weapons technology. The UT shooter used rifles, pistols and a sawed off shotgun. The Las Vegas shooter used 12 military style assault weapons equipped with “bump fire stocks.”
This legal modification allows a weapon to be transformed from the normal ‘pull the trigger for each shot’ to one in which the shooter simply holds the trigger. The recoil of the rifle’s receiver in the stock causes the trigger mechanism to be activated automatically. This results in a fire pattern approximating that of a fully automatic weapon.
Don’t think it couldn’t happen to you. Remember, the event that heralded the modern era of mass shootings was the one at the University of Texas in 1966.
On January 31, 200, SFGate reports that “… a 19-year-old De Anza [college] student intended to wake up yesterday morning, plant bombs throughout the Cupertino campus and detonate the explosives at lunchtime, starting in De Anza’s packed cafeteria, police said.”
De Anza College is a community college in Cupertino, CA. I attended De Anza College at that time. I would have very likely been in the cafeteria having lunch at about that time. I dodged a bomb.
Umpqua Community College is a two-year school in Roseburg, Oregon, a rural working class town based upon a thriving lumber industry. On October 1, 2015, exactly two years before the Las Vegas shooting, a student at the college shot an English professor point bland and killed eight other students.
It can happen close to home.
Those are the facts. Consider Neil Young’s words for a moment …
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How could you run when you know?
Fifty-eight American citizens fell in Las Vegas. Some were mothers, some were fathers, but all were someone’s children. In Orlando, in 2016, 49 people fell to a shooters rage; some were mothers, some were fathers, but all were someone’s children. In Sandy Hook, Connecticut, 26 Americans fell to another crazed shooter with a military-style assault rifle. Twenty of these were someone’s young children. They died that day having lived to the ripe old age of six or seven years.
What if you knew her, what if she was your child, what if you found her dead on the ground, how could you run when you know?
Neil Young ends his song with the lament:
How many …
How many more?
As American citizens, we and only we have the ability to effect social change. So, that’s the question we have to ask ourselves; how many more?