Woodstock: We haven't had that spirit here since 1969

Who’s next?

How about that guy over there? He looks pretty shady. Or that woman? Nah, it’s usually guys, and white ones at that. Maybe it’s this one, or that one, or perhaps the other one.

We don’t know who will do it, but we do know it will happen again. And again. And again. Ad infinitum.

And where will it be? A church? That’s been done. A school? Shootings in public schools and colleges are becoming almost cliche. A rock concert maybe, or how about a major sporting event, those would break new ground.

Will it be in New York, North Dakota, Alabama or perhaps right here in Oklahoma. It will get here eventually, it’s bound to. Don’t think it won’t.

And in the aftermath how many crosses will be erected? How many crosses will Greg Zanis have to make the next time some fool with a firearm decides living a sane, normal life just isn’t for him. For years Zanis, a retired master carpenter, has traveled to the sites of mass shootings across America and crafted crosses to honor the victims.

And how many thoughts and prayers can we expect? There will undoubtedly be thoughts and prayers, oceans of them. There always are, along with a spiffy memorial marked by balloons, stuffed animals and candles.

And how many cries for gun control will there be? Those will come in droves, but nothing will happen because it seems our federal government now has four branches instead of three, with the NRA joining the executive, legislative and judicial.

I speak, of course, of mass shootings, massacres of the innocent by the troubled for inexplicable reasons, the most recent examples of which occurred in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

We are a violent nation, whose residents are killing each other at an alarming rate. It is no wonder several countries around the world have deemed the U.S. a dangerous place to visit. Uruguay and Venezuela are the most recent nations to issue travel warnings about coming to the U.S., but even some of our closest allies, like Canada, New Zealand, Ireland and Italy have made it clear to their globetrotting citizens that good old America the Beautiful has become America the Unsafe.

But what is the problem? Is it guns? Is it a plethora of violent TV shows, movies and video games? Is it an inadequate mental health system? Is it rampant racism and a resurgence of white supremacy? The answer is all of the above and then some.

Our moral compass is broken, our collective ethical GPS mis-programmed. We are, it seems, off the rails and there is no one capable of getting us back on track.

Remember the good old days when all we had to worry about was the Soviet Union lighting us up like a Roman candle with a volley of nukes? Now it’s getting so you can’t even go to Walmart without having to look over your shoulder every other second.

Tuesday night in New York’s Times Square, dubbed the crossroads of the world, a backfiring motorcycle sent a crowd of thousands running in panic. Also this week a falling sign at a Utah mall sparked fear, confusion and evacuation, while an argument between two men at a Walmart in Baton Rouge, La., caused a similar kerfuffle among anxious shoppers.

Likely many shoppers were of the back-to-school variety, they certainly were at the El Paso Walmart, with hundreds in the store taking advantage of that state’s Tax-Free Weekend. In the wake of the El Paso and Dayton shootings the sale of bulletproof backpacks for school kids surged between 200 and 300 percent, according to CNN. Have a good day at school, Jimmy, and don’t forget to duck.

Welcome to America, 2019, America the Fearful.

To be fair the threat comes not only from guns. A known gang member in California was arrested this week after going on a stabbing rampage, killing four people and wounding two others with a knife.

What is the matter with us? Why do we seem hell-bent on killing each other?

You would think the nation would get so fed up with all the violence that we would collectively rise up and say, enough, no more.

But it hasn’t happened yet, and it seems it never will.

If there wasn’t a sea change in our attitude toward firearms and violence in the wake of the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 children between 6 and 7 years old, 20 babies, were slain by a young man with a history of mental illness, it will never come. It was obvious after Sandy Hook that many in this country value firearms more highly than children.

There are companies that market clothing with a high SPF designed to help prevent skin cancer. I wonder how long it will be before someone develops lightweight and practical garments that will at least afford the wearer some protection from bullets?

I remember the day in August of 1986 when Patrick Sherrill shot and killed 14 people at the post office in Edmond. The news was stunning, unthinkable, unfathomable.

No longer.

The same weekend as the El Paso and Dayton massacres I attended a rather large event in Oklahoma City. As usual I noted the location of the nearest emergency exits. But it was firearms I had in mind, not fire.

What is the matter with us, and when, if ever, will we change? Human life in America, it seems, has become as cheap as a politician’s promises.

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Mullin is an award-winning writer and columnist who recently retired after 41 years with the News & Eagle. Email him at janjeff2002@yahoo.com.

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I have been with the News & Eagle since 1976 and the Vance Airscoop editor since 2006.