So this is Memorial Day in 2014, when we are supposed to remember and honor those who died serving this country and end up mourning the latest to die at the hands of a madman with guns in America, this time in Isla Vista, Calif., near the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Once again, the only true gun control in America is when the shooter finally puts one of his guns to his own head and blows his own brains out.
Wayne LaPierre, the gun nut who runs the National Rifle Association and is so often the face and voice of that association, likes to say that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, as if the principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the late Dawn Hochsprung, could have saved herself and those children if she’d just been packing.
But the reality of a country that gets lousier with its own stupid gun culture by the day is that too often we have to wait, after more killing, for the bad guy with the gun to stop himself.
That is what finally happened with Elliot Rodger, 22, after six more innocent people were slaughtered, the last four — including the shooter, wh o had to kill some people because he couldn’t get a date — with semiautomatic weapons that always make the killing good and fast.
You are already hearing that the background checks for which gun control advocates practically have to beg for in America really don’t work, because Rodger passed background checks and purchased his SIG Sauers and Glock 34 legally. You are hearing that it’s a waste of time to put limits on magazines and ammunition, because here was this horny college kid with 41 10-round magazines in his possession; and that the killing started for Rodger with him knifing three people to death.
It makes you think all over again that those who preach sanity on this subject are doing nothing but shouting at the ocean, or just trying to be heard over the sound of more gunfire.
It happens at UCSB this time. The vigil for the dead this time is held in Isla Vista at Anisq‘Oyo’ Park. This is what the school’s chancellor, Henry Yang, says on Memorial Day weekend, 2014, now that gun violence finally finds its way to his school, his town, as it tours the country like the old Ice Capades:
“We are here to share our sorrow, shock and pain.”
But there is no longer any shock when it happens again. How can there be? It is the last week of May in Isla Vista. It was the first week of April in Fort Hood, when Ivan Lopez started shooting. It was supposed to be about Lopez being turned down for leave. Elliot Rodger finally snapped after being turned down for dates. Adam Lanza slaughtered elementary school children in Newtown and not college kids the way Rodger did. Lanza’s psychotic break had occurred long before he walked through the doors of Sandy Hook with his Bushmaster rifle, another real good gun for real fast killing.
Obviously there are no sure safeguards against madness, especially if the shooter uses this kind of rampage as a form of suicide, willing to go out guns blazing, sick little Facebook posts and videos sometimes left behind. But it does not change the fact that it is far too easy for these people to get guns, legally or illegally, especially the kinds of guns that Elliot Rodger used to kill the people he killed and wound 13 others.
Mother Jones, which has done such fine work and told the truth about guns for a long time, reports that since 1982 in this country, there have been more than 70 mass shootings, across 30 states, and that nearly three dozen have occurred since 2006. They occur in malls and movie theaters and at Army bases and the Washington Navy Yard and Sikh temples and elementary schools and college campuses.
The numbers say that so many of these guns used on innocent people, dead because they went to work or went to school, were purchased legally. It means that the real insanity in the greatest country in the world, the one for which my father and all those like him fought, is this:
That we are somehow sane on the subject of guns.
We think we can police the rest of the world while the rest of the world looks at us like the Wild West; while those here who say this is all a way of protecting the Second Amendment are the ones making a mockery of its original intent, and ideals.
This is Memorial Day 2014 then. We mourn more dead college kids along with those who laid down their lives for our freedoms, mourn more innocents gunned down on the real modern battlefield:
The streets of the United States of America.