In Dallas on Thursday night a group of black, white, Asian and Latino protesters marched together under the Black Lives Matter banner. 

Young and old, they assembled peacefully to protest the shocking shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling earlier in the week. 

But unknown them all a crazed gunman was among them. 25-year-old Micah Xavier Johnson was a military veteran who had served in Afghanistan. In minutes he would turn an orderly protest into a tragedy.

When police raided Johnson’s house on Friday they found bomb-making materials, ballistic vests, assault rifles, high capacity magazines and an extensive journal of combat tactics. 

Here was yet another home-brew horseman of the apocalypse, his lethal arsenal legally purchased. 

How many times will we read that another lone gunman, acting alone, has amassed an arsenal of military grade weapons (with high capacity magazines) and bomb making materials and then turned them all on us? 

How many of these lunatics do we intend to keep enabling before we come to our senses and ask why any citizen actually needs an assault weapon with high capacity magazines at all? The apocalypse is not imminent, we are not in the middle of a protracted war with Canada or Mexico, so he rationale for owning an AR-15 in Texas or Florida or Connecticut makes less than no sense.

Many things get lost when Americans talk about guns, perspective, tempers, civility, reason. No sooner do you ask these pointed questions than a small but persistent (and impressively deep pocketed) sub section of our society raise their voices and the rooftops shouting about their God or Constitution given rights.

But what about the people being massacred? Don't they have rights too? Don't they have the right not to be shot, at last? 

Aren't we consigning them all to the grave and to the wheel of history too quickly by insisting that our rights to high capacity magazines and military grade rifles are more important than their right not to become their targets?

Conservatives say guns at the scene of mass shootings would have prevented multiple deaths. But in Dallas on Friday heavily armed police were killed or wounded alongside civilians. So having access to assault weapons doesn't protect you from others with assault weapons, it just makes you statistically more likely to be shot.

The proof is conclusive. In America our citizens are becoming gun death statistics at a rate that's dramatically higher than anywhere else in the developed world.

So many people die from gunfire here each year that the death toll between 1968 and 2011 eclipses every war that was ever fought by this country. 

Increasingly, America's news cycle is a weekly – often daily - recitation of mass shootings and mayhem, and the numbers being shot are only rising, not falling. 

We see that it's a crisis, we know that it's a crisis, yet we look away and pretend it can never touch us. Statistically though, it very easily could. There were an astounding 372 mass shootings in the US in 2015, the odds of you or someone you love wandering into one are only increasing. 

It's without end and without precedent, this ever growing pyre of the American dead, their lives increasingly taken by military grade assault weapons with high capacity magazines, in our endless destructive cycle of mass shootings.

No other country on earth watches one mass shooter after the next mow down another group of unsuspecting innocents and decides that the solution is to buy even more guns or look away.

So this American age should be called the Great Unraveling. It's as if all our fears - our utter failure to act on the most critical issues and injustices of our times - have prepared a bitter harvest for us. 

Each attack on our fellow citizens is an attack on us all, after all. Each attack sows mistrust, tears further at our social contract, divides us from each other, spreads fear and kills hope. 

Each shooting does violence to what we stand for and emboldens what we stand against. It's a spiraling tragedy of such scale and impact that it staggers the senses.

And this Great Unraveling is turning us into an internationally lamented basket case. Other nations measure our apparent decline by our inability to get even a moderate guns control bill through our house and senate.

More than half of the mass killers in 62 mass shootings over the last thirty years possessed high capacity weapons that would be banned by Diane Feinstein's Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 bill (which includes semi-automatic rifles, guns with military features, and handguns that use magazines with more than 10 rounds). 

We don't enact it though. We don't even properly debate it. The NRA dictates to our Congress and Senate what action they may take, which is no action at all. Then our suppliant leaders do what they are told. 

You can not fix what you will not face. Those words are James Baldwin's and their enduring challenge should shame us. We appear to have no intention of facing the reality that easy access to assault weapons and high capacity magazines are increasingly tearing our nation apart.

As Dallas just proved in mass shootings good guys with rifles don't necessarily defeat bad guys with rifles. Rifles actually make no distinction between them. 

One of the most chilling aspects of the tragic events in Dallas on Thursday has gone almost without notice, but we should acknowledge it here as a sign of the increasing horrors ahead of us.

Dallas police used a robot dog to kill the shooter. This was made possible thanks to federal programs that have moved billions of dollars of surplus military equipment to local police agencies nationwide, militarizing them.

Since 1997 at least six billion worth of military hardware has been transferred to more than 8,000 law enforcement agencies who are enrolled in the program.

It's not yet known what kind of robot dog the Dallas County's Sheriff's Office used to kill Johnson, but in April of 2014 they reportedly received – through the Pentagon – a bomb disposal robot that was valued at $10,000.

On Thursday for the first time in the history of the United States a robot was used by law enforcement to kill a suspect. 

Primarily used to give command a live view of enemy movements where they are reluctant to send troops, US soldiers in Iraq quickly created their own home-brew kitted-out robot units to attack enemy targets with mines.

Thursday means that police and assailants are both increasingly militarizing our streets. It means that the hardware used against combatants in Iraq is being used against citizens in the United States, blurring the line between Baghdad and Dallas. 

It means no trial before a jury, it means immediate execution.

We are going very down dark roads unthinkingly. Our troops brought their military hardware home from the Middle East, will we let them bring the war home now too?






So many people die from gunfire in the U.S. each year that the death toll between 1968 and 2011 eclipses every war that was ever fought by the country. iStock