The Only Response: Vote Them Out



Brooksville — Yet again, Americans lie dead because of the willful inaction of our political leaders. Two mass shootings within 13 hours ended at least 31 lives and tore apart countless others. Each of these preventable tragedies highlights separate, uniquely-American failures, bound together by a culture which fetishizes firearms. Our nation has sacrificed the once-unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness at the altar of corporate profits and campaign contributions.

On Saturday morning a 21-year-old white man from the Dallas suburbs drove 9 hours to El Paso, a city on the Mexican border with a population that is 80% Latinx. There he took up the cry he certainly heard at a campaign rally in Panama City just three months ago: “Shoot them!” In his wake he left unspeakable carnage and a trail of white supremacist screeds inspired by those of like mind: Dylann Roof, the Charleston mass murderer who sought to ignite a race war; David Duke, the former leader of the Ku Klux Klan; and Donald J. Trump, the President of the United States, who smiled on national television at the idea of using bullets to “get rid” of brown people.

The leader of our country is inciting violent terrorist attacks against the people he is sworn to serve, even as his executive agencies scare the victims away from seeking medical treatment. Time and again, through word and deed, he emboldens and enables his radical racist supporters.

Then, on Saturday night, a 24-year-old white man shot 35 people in under 30 seconds, killing 9, before being killed by police in Dayton, Ohio. Local news stations reported a history of disturbing behavior including an incident which triggered a school lockdown after he etched a “hit list” on a bathroom wall and “writings” which demonstrated an “interest in killing people”. Yet in a country which does not have a unified healthcare system, let alone any semblance of a mental healthcare system, we can be sure that there was no sustained follow-up care.

It is the spinelessness of Senate Republicans – including Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott – which preclude either of these crises from being addressed. It is all the more infuriating that both of these mass murderers abided by the applicable laws governing the purchase and carrying of firearms – right up to the point that they pulled the trigger. Both Texas and Ohio are right-to-kill states, where owners of murder machinery may openly flaunt that they possess the power to, at any moment, shoot us dead. In this era of mass shootings, our right to live is just another body on the pile, scarcely mourned and long-forgotten.

The House of Representatives has passed two modest bills to expand the federal background check system, but Senate Republicans are blocking it because it may cause a slight inconvenience to prospective gun owners. Meanwhile, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is attempting to scuttle a ballot initiative proposing to ban assault weapons from appearing on the ballot next November.

None of this is new. And until these corrupt obstructionists are voted out, none of this will change.