We live in a strange time in America.
The president of the United States and other leaders across the nation tell us that we’re supposed to quake in terror at the thought that a ragged band of poor, frightened and desperate refugees, many of them women and small children fleeing from horror, inches its way toward our southern border.
But we’re not supposed to give a second thought that the angry and unbalanced white guy – it’s inevitably a white guy – next door or down the street might be sitting on an arsenal of firearms that could outfit a small army.
We had another mass shooting in America a couple of days ago.
This one was in Thousand Oaks, California, but it really could have been anywhere. In fact, these mass shootings now do happen everywhere.
This time, a troubled white guy with a gun entered a club filled with college students and opened fire. By the time he turned the gun on himself and brought the holocaust to an end, he’d killed 11 people at the club and a sheriff’s sergeant.
Yes, he ended the lives of a bunch of innocent young people and a good guy – by all accounts, a very good guy – with a gun.
These tragedies play out with a numbing, depressing repetitiveness.
People die for no good reason. We wring our hands and say that something must be done.
The National Rifle Association and its elected minions across the land then begin throwing up smokescreens and erecting barricades to keep us from doing anything about it.
Normally, they start with an obligatory expression of regret.
Of course, it’s always a tragedy when a human being dies, but – there’s always a “but” coming – we must protect our guns.
Even if it means having children die.
Or police officers.
Or people just going to the church of their choice to worship.
The rapidity with which mass shootings occur now in America has placed a tremendous strain on the NRA mouthpieces. They’ve begun to forget their lines. They sometimes skip pretending that they even care about the people who were killed.
When U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, was asked by Fox News about the Thousand Oaks murders, her response was immediate and decisive.
“What we do is say how do we make certain we protect the Second Amendment,” she said.
Not the young people in the club.
Not the sheriff’s sergeant who lost his life trying to protect others.
No, we must protect the guns.
The guns are the priority.
Not the human beings.
Blackburn just won a tough race in Tennessee and will be moving up to the U.S. Senate. The NRA donated more than $1 million to help her get there.
Sounds like giving her money was a good investment on the NRA’s part.
Blackburn’s likely to pay dividends for many years to come.
The NRA also has taken the nation’s doctors to task for labeling our national epidemic of gun violence a public health problem.
The doctors join a long list of people the NRA and its puppets say – all in the name of preserving “freedom,” of course — have no right to talk about guns or shooting or people dying in our streets, schools, workplaces and houses of worship.
This list includes:
Police officers and/or their widows and orphaned children.
Parents who have lost children to gun violence.
Children who have lost parents to gun violence.
High school students who have lost friends to gun violence.
Victims of gun violence who somehow survived acts of violence.
And, now, doctors who try to save the lives of people who have been shot.
Basically, in the NRA’s world, the only people who are entitled to talk about gun violence are the ones who either have taken money from or given money to the NRA.
Everyone else, the NRA’s flacks say, has an “agenda.”
Meanwhile, the ragged and desperate families continue inching their way across the hundreds of miles separating them from our southern border. They’re searching for better lives for them and their descendants, something we used to call the American Dream.
That they want for their families what we want for ours, the president and his allies say, should terrify us.
We live in a strange time in America.
John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.