What’s left to say about mass murder

In my reporting career, I have covered seven American mass murders – one in 1989 in Stockton, and the rest in the last decade.

One was a guy parking his SUV in front of a commuter train (25 dead). The rest were committed with guns, usually by dylann-roofderanged drifting people – all men, five of them white – who had remarkably easy access to high-powered guns.

I don’t know what more there is to say about these events. Seriously. They’re now so common that they have devolved into babble-fodder for our politico-cultural wars on the toxic battlefield of 24-hour cable news. Such a network, I suspect, could plan its profitability around the certainty of a boost in viewership from a couple of these events every year.

Somehow, despite all the talk, we never get around to doing anything about it.

We talked a lot but did nothing meaningful after Tucson and Aurora. Then 26 kids were shot to death at an elementary school and we did nothing. We did talk a lot, though.

People nowadays fall into rote after these events, saying profound things that have devolved into cliches from overuse.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out …” That’s a deep, poetic thing to say – that my thoughts and prayers I’m sending out in hopes they will soothe you and bind your wounds, that I am feeling for you and hope that in doing so it will lessen your pain. Yet it sounds trite any more.

I used to think that seven mass murders was a large number of mass murders to have covered in one’s reporting career.

Now another lost and drifting lunatic kills nine people in a church. A guy who by 21 is going nowhere, who apparently at one point had been abusing Suboxone (a heroin-addiction treatment). This time the guy has a racial animus.

Terrorist? I guess. Probably. Who knows?

“He looks bored,” one little girl I know said, upon seeing his mugshot. That’s sounds about right. His dad, bugging him to get a job, may have given him a gun for a 21st birthday present. Who does that? And why? To give him some direction in life? I don’t have the slightest idea why someone would do that.

(NOTE: It was later reported that Dylann Roof had, in fact, purchased the gun himself that he used in the church.)

I don’t know what to say any more about people who do these killings, or legislators who won’t do anything about these events, or 24-hour cable news babble, or dads who give their lost sons guns for presents, or a country that so easily moves on.

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3 Responses to What’s left to say about mass murder

  1. Pingback: What’s left to say about mass murder « NewsTaco

  2. Judy King

    You did it again. You always find a way to take our emotions to the next level. How does it get sadder than 9 people shot while at a church prayer meeting? Realizing there is nothing left to say about mass murders…that we’ve said it all over the years during all of the others. We don’t even have any new words of comfort for the survivors. Indeed Sam, you’ve found a new level of emotion, you’ve made the disbelief and despair even sadder. Thanks. JK

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