Like a lot of people, it has taken me time to process the horrifying news from El Paso and Dayton
What united each of these attacks? Once again assault rifles, military-grade weapons of war permitted by our legislators to be carried on America's streets, alongside the two drum magazines that allowed the El Paso shooter to fire off over 200 rounds.
You don't have a prayer against them.
The nation is already flooded with them. If all these mass shootings seem to be increasing to you then you're clearly paying attention, because that's exactly what the studies show.
The fact is mass shootings have more than doubled since Columbine. An FBI list of 277 so-called “active shooter incidents” from 2000 through 2018 shows a sharp rise in these attacks. Active shooter incidents averaged 8.6 a year from 2000 through 2009.
But from 2010 through 2018 that number jumped again to an average 21.2 a year, two and a half times more frequently.
Ask yourself how long has it been since you thought about the mass shooting at the Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas, where a heavily armed shooter killed 58 people in a frenzied and inexplicable attack?
Or the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, where another heavily armed shooter killed 49 people out for a fun night in a club?
Or the Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut, where another heavily armed shooter killed 27 people, most of them children aged between six and seven years old?
Politicians like Moscow Mitch McConnell hope you will forget all about these unspeakable outrages, over and over, as soon as your horror fades and the nation moves on, as you grow numb now to living in a violent dystopia, because these mass slaughters are part of the daily fabric of our lives and many voters feel helpless to change it.
Politicians hope you will forget because the gun lobby often sends them far more campaign cash than private citizens could ever dream of.
Call it pay to slay, nothing ensures a U.S. senator or Congress member remains in support of the status quo (and the fig leaf of the Second Amendment) like the prospect of a sharp drop in campaign funds or a restive conservative base that considers gun ownership a thing almost ordained by God.
These small considerations result in small politics and smaller politicians, the one's who regularly toss their “thoughts and prayers” at unspeakable human slaughter and hope that they will not look as weak as they feel.
We did not have to live with this anxiety, by the way. It's a choice. After the expiration of the President Bill Clinton's federal ban on assault weapons in 2004 and the failure to renew it by the Republican-controlled Congress, it now falls upon the states to pass sensible laws to prohibit these deadly weapons.
You're not helpless to change all this, in other words. You could take a little moment to call your state representatives to ask them to prohibit the manufacture, sale, transfer, or possession of an assault weapon or large-capacity magazines in your state.
If you care about your future and your children's you should. And know that you're not alone. As of June 2016, 57% of Americans supported a ban on assault weapons. That number has only increased since.
We live in a time where toxic ideologies are increasingly expressed through the mass slaughter of civilians by extremists with assault rifles. This, in turn, is inspiring other extremists to plot their own violent courses.
Our refusal to act or respond is being seen as weakness by some and as quiet endorsement by others. The end result will simply be more carnage, more killing.
There has always been a core of white men in this nation who despise its diversity, reject what it stands for and refuse to live in peace with their neighbors. History and our nightly newscasts show us what happens when we allow such people access to weapons of war. We should ask ourselves why are we permitting such men to achieve their aims unhindered?
Last week violent video games were quietly banned from Walmart after 22 people were killed within its walls in El Paso. You can still easily purchase firearms there, however. This kind of moral obtuseness is a pathetic attempt to shift the blame as if it were video games that killed those poor people instead of easily purchased military-grade hardware and a man with a plan to target them with it.
There have been 254 mass shooting in the United States this year alone, according to the Gun Violence Archive. So the issue isn't video games and the solution isn't going to be found with our politicians, it's all on us.
How we vote is where we will live. Remember that before you pull the lever in 2020.