CHICAGO — The dead weren’t even finished dying in Las Vegas before the left swooped down to feed on gun-control politics.

So rather than allow even one day to reflect and mourn, rather than allow us to consider the heroism of the survivors and first responders in that Las Vegas nightmare, politics saw an opportunity and took it immediately.

But the murderous retired accountant Stephen Paddock, 64, the lone gunman, wasn’t all that impulsive. Paddock took days to plan. He was meticulous, arranging a 23-gun arsenal — some guns fully and illegally automatic — in his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

He worked out his fields of fire, even set up cameras to alert him to police. He stocked up on thousands of rounds, and authorities said he also had components used to make bombs in his home and his car.

And then, when he was ready, he unleashed hell, shooting down on thousands of innocents at that Sunday night country music concert across the way.

At least 59 are dead now, more than 500 injured. As of this writing — days after his killing spree — authorities could not offer a motive. This is especially odd, because in such cases motives are usually released within hours; the shooter was a madman, or he had political associations and resentments forming the latticework of motive.

But not with this one, not with Paddock.

Yet even when the preliminary count of the dead was still in the 20s, as loved ones desperately tried to find the missing, listening to the terrible sound of cellphones ringing with no answer, the politicians made their moves. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, pundits by the deplorable basketful and others seized the moment to press for advantage.

The universal and hateful hot take came from Hayley Geftman-Gold, CBS vice president and legal counsel, on Facebook.At least she was honest in her tribalism, upfront about it, using “Repugs” for Republicans and blaming them for not supporting blanket gun-control legislation.

What’s not legitimate was her lack of sympathy for the dead.

“I’m actually not even sympathetic bc (because) country music fans often are Republican gun toters,” Geftman-Gold wrote. Later, she was fired.

And in the morning following the massacre, even as victims lay dying in hospitals, Clinton was busy virtue-signaling on Twitter.

“The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots,” tweeted Clinton, still seeking relevancy. “Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make it easier to get.”

She must have been thinking of a Jason Bourne movie, of silencers whispering death, a sound just a bit louder than the munching of popcorn.

But Hollywood isn’t reality. Jason Bourne movies are not proper foundation for policy.

There is Republican-backed legislation to make suppressors for long guns easier to obtain — still requiring governmental approval and fees. A suppressor doesn’t make a gun silent like the weapon of a Hollywood assassin. The Washington Post reported a suppressor would reduce the sound of an AR-15 round to that of “a gunshot or jackhammer.” There’s nothing silent about a jackhammer.

Should we have more debate? Certainly. Let’s have it. There are more guns and more gun crimes in America than any other place in the world. But let’s not forget that most killings aren’t committed by some lone sniper without apparent motive. The killings happen on the streets of big cities such as Chicago, a city of strict gun control, where street gangs continue their slaughter and City Hall is powerless to stop them.

And America is numb to what happens in Chicago.

Guns are in the suburbs and in rural areas, and yet the suburbs aren’t killing fields. So if we’re going to have another gun debate, can’t we at least discuss culture, too? And can’t we wonder about what pathology drives so many mass shootings in the past few years?

Blaming the NRA is good politics for the left. It helps with fundraising, stokes outrage and helps herd voters into tribal camps. But is it possible that it’s incomplete, like blaming airplanes for the 9/11 terrorist attacks?

There may be something in our culture that is wrong and sick and festering. And recent mass shootings may be a symptom of larger cultural illness.

We know that we’ve become increasingly nihilistic, and isolated from one another on our electronic devices. We know we’re divided into politically warring tribes, as the political center crumbles, as the Washington establishment holds desperately to power.

We know that attendance continues to drop at traditional centers of worship. And even so, the political/cultural elites who frame our gun and other debates often mock the remaining faithful as “religious fanatics.”

As America abandons religion for entertainment, we consume unprecedented amounts of pharmaceuticals, from opioids to mood-altering drugs, to mask our emotional and mental pain.

Aren’t you curious as to how this impacts culture?

Even so, when the shooting began in the Mandalay Bay massacre, as the country music crowd stampeded in fear, as people died, Americans selflessly helped each other, comforted each other, risking and giving their own lives to save each other.

If only we’d been allowed a day or two to mourn, to reflect on the goodness even in the midst of the horror, before the politics swooped in.

Kass writes for the Chicago Tribune.

8
1
0
0
3