- The Handbasket
- Monday morning in America
Monday morning in America
GOP stays focused on made-up problems when gun violence is right there.
Monday morning. Mass shooting. Five dead.
It could’ve been anywhere. The victims could’ve been anyone. Today it was Louisville. Tomorrow? Who knows.
Sure, the world will keep turning. But not for those five people in a Kentucky bank. Or the three killed in Orlando last night during an Easter egg hunt. Or the one dead outside a Cincinnati strip mall yesterday afternoon.
In announcing the shooting in Louisville Monday, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (a Democrat) shared something startling: One of the victims was his dear friend. Yes, gun violence is so widespread, so commonplace that neither power nor privilege can insulate you from its wrath. Per the Lexington Herald-Leader:
According to local law enforcement, the gunman was an employee of the bank. Even though police arrived on the scene in three short minutes, that wasn’t soon enough. On top of the five people killed, nine were taken to the hospital with injuries. An officer at the scene was shot in the head and is clinging to life after emergency surgery.
It’s difficult not to settle into utter hopelessness when the speed at which shootings occur seems to be snowballing. There’s a distinct feeling, at least for me, of the walls closing in, and time running out until my life is personally impacted by gun violence. And my mind reels wondering how I’d deal with it—the utter grief of knowing it was preventable.
I think about the number of times I’ve snapped to attention, and wondered if it was finally happening.
Last year as I sat in a movie theater with my fiance and his entire immediate family, there was suddenly a loud pounding on a locked side door. It persisted in spurts for what felt like a long time, but was probably less than a minute. I braced my seat, and prayed the door would remain locked. Eventually the pounding subsided and the show went on with no acknowledgement of what many of us had no doubt feared in the moment.
My friend put it perfectly today as we debriefed after yet another deluge of news about yet another mass shooting, “Gun violence erodes our basic ability to just…be.” And she’s absolutely right. It takes inherently innocuous situations and makes them dangerous. Not that everyday activities are without their hazards: but violence isn’t a byproduct of guns. Violence is the purpose. When a gun is used properly, it inflicts maximum harm.
And after what happened in Tennessee last week, there’s a new level of fear: retaliation for protesting against gun violence. If you missed it, two young, Black state legislators were expelled by the state house’s GOP super-majority after they participated in a gun violence protest following a mass shooting at a Nashville school. Republican leadership claimed, “Their adolescence and immature behavior brought dishonor to the Tennessee General Assembly as they admitted to knowingly breaking the rules.” But there’s no dishonor in allowing children to continually be slaughtered at school, right?
I’ve been trying out Substack’s Chat feature to engage with readers (especially as Twitter falls to pieces) and I was able to communicate with a bunch of you earlier today about the latest shooting. Reader Cassie commented, “It feels like just another Monday in the USA.” It captured what struck me most today: the fact that this day is indistinguishable from any other day. The sameness of it all. How it’s been woven into the fabric of our society.
The shooting put into perspective how Republicans always have a made-up problem to fixate on instead of the many, many real ones that exist. For them it’s the existence of trans people, drag shows, books, and teaching about racism when gun violence, poverty and climate change are right there.
Republicans will never give an inch on gun violence prevention, because much like the way mass shootings have become who we are as a society, putting guns before human life is who they are as a party.