Time to end thoughts and prayers and actually do something


[This post has been updated as new information comes in.]

And so we have another mass shooting less than a week after the last one. This time 14 people were murdered and 17 wounded in a matter of minutes because people were able to easily and legally obtain the kinds of lethal weaponry that combat troops use. And as usual, those opposed to any kind of reasonable checks on the ability to obtain such weapons have tried to find ways to not address this glaring problem.

We do not know yet what the motives of the killers were. There are mixed signals. Reports that one of them attended the very function that they shot up and left after a dispute and then returned to go on their rampage suggests lack of premeditation. But the fact that they wore some kind of combat gear and were able to so quickly get their weaponry together suggests careful planning. The fact that the man had a good job with the San Bernadino county health department for the past five years and that the conference facility where the shootings took place had been rented out for a Christmas party for the San Bernardino County public health department suggests that the targets were not picked randomly. This is the kind of information that will come out in dribs and drabs over time.

But in the immediate aftermath, Republican candidates and other supports of free access to guns have issued the usual platitudes, offering their ‘thoughts and prayers’ to the families and friends of those affected. This is the routine response, their substitute for actually doing anything concrete.

But this time there has been a harsh reaction to this. The New York Daily News criticized this rote reaction and used its front page today to ridicule it.

NY Daily news

Twitter users have tried to shame these people with a series of tweets using the hashtag thoughtsandprayers.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik says that the people rushing to social media in the wake of such tragedies to offer their own “thoughts and prayers” to people they do not know are simply being self-indulgent.

It is time to end the rote invocation of thoughts and prayers. People have done it hundreds of times to no avail. Its purpose has to serve as a cover for doing nothing but that is wearing exceedingly thin.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, a criminologist compiles six things that we should know about mass shootings.

This cartoon pretty much captures the extent of the concrete suggestions were are likely to hear from those politicians in the pockets of the NRA.

Luckovich

Comments

  1. Friendly says

    If one owns a home where an accident or crime could occur, one must purchase liability insurance for it.
    If one owns a vehicle that could be involved in an accident or a crime, one must purchase liability insurance for it.
    If one owns a gun — a device that is specifically designed to injure or kill — one should at the very least have to purchase liability insurance for it.

  2. Holms says

    Yes, but then when hasn’t it been the ‘time to end thoughts and prayers and actually do something’? This will be the same old shit.

  3. says

    Also to no surprise, the rightwingnuts are grasping at strawmen, taking glee in the deaths of the fourteen by repeatedly pointing out that two of the shooters in California have names that sound middle eastern.

    Hey, never mind the four other shootings this week perpetrated by white people or the fact that two thirds of mass shootings are by white males (and 99% by males, period). This is an opportunity to stick is them “teruwrist imgrunts!” as the uneducated refer to them both in speech and in writing.

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/12/mass-shootings-mother-jones-full-data

    According to Gun Violence Archive, there have been two hundred and sixty intentional shootings in the US in the past 72 hours (11/30 to 12/02), though the number of injured or killed in most of them is one or zero. Still the prevalence and willingness to resort to guns so quickly is beyond comprehension. Another site that tracks shootings, Shooting Tracker, is temporarily down due to having too many visitors.

    http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/last-72-hours

  4. Rob Grigjanis says

    But the fact that they wore some kind of combat gear and were able to so quickly get their weaponry together suggests careful planning.

    To me, it suggests they were Americans.

  5. Glenn says

    At least these were Saudi Arabians, above suspicion of terrorism because of their nation’s status as American allies.

    Some might remember an attack—largely by Saudis—in 2001, after which almost all civilian aircraft were grounded while compatriots of the attacker’s alleged leader were flown home on the sole non-military aircraft allowed in US airspace.

    This type of attack is so American in nature, more indigenous than foreign; more a symptom of American culture, or America’s lack thereof.

  6. A Masked Avenger says

    So far this year 462 people have been killed in mass shootings by civilians. By contrast, 1,092 people have been killed year-to-date by police. Both are horrific tragedies, of course. One results in massive outrage, and calls to make police by the only ones with guns. Which makes sense, because they obviously know how to use them, seeing as they are 236% better at killing people…

    This of course doesn’t mean that guns shouldn’t be eliminated. It’s just interesting that when mass shooting deaths are at 1 per 200K gun owners, and killings by cops are at 99 per 100K–making cops about 198x more likely to kill someone than a mass-shooting gun owner–we think the solution is crystal clear.

  7. Nick Gotts says

    Glenn@7,

    No, Syed Rizwan Farook was an American whose parents immigrated from Pakistan. I have not seen anything about the nationality or origins of Tashfeen Malik. Farook is reported to have gone to Saudi Arabia and returned with a wife – presumably Malik, although I have not seen this confirmed, nor have I seen anything about the purpose of his trip. Mecca is in Saudi Arabia, so he could have gone there on the hajj, and Malik could have been a fellow-pilgrim. Or he could have gone on business, andor been converted to extremist ideology there, or… there’s still a great deal we don’t know.

  8. Glenn says

    A Masked Avenger @8

    In a nation that outsources work to slave nations, where obtaining the necessities of life moves to being more at the whim of corporate economic structures; where employment is precarious, i.e., not a human right but at the pleasure of the employer; and reduction of income imposes the violence of forcing one to into choosing between the existential threats of vulnerability to unaffordable healthcare, heat and shelter for oneself and one’s family, and education, etc.; and where the prospect of employment without a profit to the employer is diminishing.

    Where suicide rates of white males is also on the rise, I strongly suspect a relationship between the phenomenon of increasing rates of self-murder and other-murder.

    We must have discourse about why people choose death over life, why they choose the life changing option of pulling the trigger that ends their life, either literally, or as they have come to know it.

  9. Rob Grigjanis says

    Nick Gotts @9:

    I have not seen anything about the nationality or origins of Tashfeen Malik.

    CBC news has reported that she was Pakistani.

  10. Glenn says

    @Nick Gotts, 9

    From 7: “This type of attack is so American in nature, more indigenous than foreign; more a symptom of American culture, or America’s lack thereof.”

    Of course Farook is American. I left that fact for thoughtful people to discover on their own.

  11. Glenn says

    @Friendly, 1

    Putting an economic cost on gun ownership would prevent poor people from owning them. This would be similar to imposing a poll tax to diminish the right to vote.

    The history of Black civil rights in the US is replete with evidence of KKK members meeting in police stations. In one case I know of a black man was found innocent of shooting police officers at his front door because they were dressed in KKK garb. This version of America is generally very difficult for white Americans to conceive.

    I believe that story came from the book Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms.

  12. A Masked Avenger says

    Glenn #11,

    Agreed! The society is fucked-up on so many levels. Passing some particular law ain’t going to cure what ails us. We need more fundamental measures [as well].

  13. laurentweppe says

    Meanwhile, a criminologist compiles six things that we should know about mass shootings.

    Frederic Lemieux (the aforementioned criminologist) writes in his article that mass shooters aren’t terrorists because, I quote

    Active shooters do not share any political motivations and do not aim at weakening government legitimacy. Instead, they are inspired by revenge or a quest for power.

    How is it different from people universally acknowledged as terrorists? Revanchist rhetoric is a core component of Daesh’s recruitment drive, and it is quite clear that Anders Breivik fancy himself as the ember of a vanguard destined to belong to the ruling class once his peers have overthrown European Democracies. Revenge and lust for power have always been element of terrorism, and not every terrorist worries about the ideological coherence of their deeds.

  14. says

    Glenn (#15) –

    Putting an economic cost on gun ownership would prevent poor people from owning them. This would be similar to imposing a poll tax to diminish the right to vote.

    How about a legal and experiential cost?

    Anyone who wants to own a gun must to experience being shot, and pay their own medical expenses for that purchase-related injury. The number of people willing to buy would drop to a trickle. And those who go through that process would be much less likely to pull it out and shoot people, knowing how much it hurts.

  15. Glenn says

    @left0ver1under, 18

    As long as anyone who drives a car is also compelled to have their legs broken by an encounter with a car’s fender so as to become familiar with the consequences and pain of careless driving. But here I joke with you.

    I’m sure when your rage subsides you’ll see how silly your test would be. And it could be enforced only by an authoritarian government and its storm-troopers, a job you may aspire to.

    I advise you to stay away from guns and sharp objects that might be used as a weapon until you regain your composure.

    Also, when one drives while so emotionally upset, traffic accidents are more likely.

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