What can I, or anyone, possibly say about the latest gun massacre – or the inevitable next massacre – that might be construed as new? You’ve heard it all before, in the wake of Virginia Tech and Tucson and Aurora and Newtown and so many more.
This time it’s the Washington Navy Yard, where the current death toll is 13; that includes the guy who wreaked the usual havoc. He had been arrested twice in the past for gun-related offenses (firing a bullet into the apartment of a woman who annoyed him; shooting out the tires of a construction vehicle that bugged him for some reason), and he was seeing a shrink because he was hearing voices – but hey, this is America, where it’s only natural that an aggressive gun guy with nutcase woes can (a) traipse into a Virginia gun store and speedily tote a shotgun, and (b) sustain his security clearance at a military installation.
I laughed out loud last night when a CNN reporter on Capitol Hill said, “People here are talking about whether this (massacre) will bring about the votes” for gun reform, starting with stricter background checks. Yeah sure. If 20 dead kids in Newtown couldn’t upset our sclerotic status quo, nothing can. Dying a random death in the midst of random slaughter, courtesy of a well-armed wacko who “fell between the cracks,” is the new normal. Or as the stewards of our weaponocracy would call it, Freedom.
And how tiresomely predictable it was to hear our leaders conclude, with an implied sigh of relief, that the shooting was not “terrorism.” Which, of course, ignores the cold repetitive truth that we’re perfectly capable of slaughtering our innocents without any help from al Qaeda.
But before we predictably take refuge in the rote cliches – “thoughts and prayers” for the grieving families, the dead are in heaven with God, the usual stuff – I’ll yield the floor to Janis Orlowski, chief medical officer at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where the latest crop of victims were treated or tagged. Orlowski spoke at length from the heart (for what it’s worth), at a press conference:
“You know what, we see a lot of trauma … what I call senseless trauma. And there’s something evil in our society that we as Americans have to work to try and eradicate. I have to say, I may see this every day…but there’s something wrong here when we have these multiple shootings, these multiple injuries. There is something wrong. and the only thing that I can say is we have to work together to get rid of it.
“I would like you to put my trauma center out of business. I really would. I would like to not be an expert on gunshots and not to be an expert on this. We are – we do it well; very experienced surgeons. But, quite frankly, I would rather they were doing their surgery on other things. And you know, it’s a great city. It’s a great country. And we have to work together to get rid of this. Because we just cannot have, you know, one more shooting with, you know, so many people killed.
“We’ve got to figure this out. We’ve got to be able to help each other…I have to say, you know, it’s a challenge to all of us. Let’s get rid of this. This is not America.”
Oh yes it is, doctor. It most certainly is.
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