Nothing is going to change. Let’s start with that.
The flags will hang at half staff. There will be candlelight vigils. There will be moments of silence and thunderous speeches.
None of it will matter.
We’ve seen this over and over again. Each time people think that this time it will be different.
Except it never is.
As long as it’s easy for monsters to get their hands on things that allow them to massacre large numbers of people in small amounts of time, it will never be different.
Because those are the fundamental variables in this equation. You take a bad person, and you add the easy ability to do great harm, and this is going to be the result.
Police say a white supremacist took a semi-automatic rifle to an El Paso shopping center and killed 22 people because he worried about a Hispanic invasion of Texas.
In the aftermath, some politicians tried to steer the conversation toward mental illness, video games or a lack of school prayer.
There was plenty praying in schools in the eras when people of color were regularly beaten in the streets and hanged from trees, so it seems an ineffective solution for the evils of racism.
Video games are international — with many of them rooted in Japan — but it’s only in the United States where we see this story unfold with frustrating frequency.
Others want to make this a mental illness issue, but evil isn’t an issue of mental health. Neither is the resurgence in violent white nationalism that has swept across the country with rallies, marches and a level of hate-fueled rhetoric not seen in decades.
Some in Texas had the courage to call the El Paso attack what it was.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Land Commissioner George P. Bush both called it terrorism, with Cruz saying it was fueled by white supremacy and Bush calling it “white terrorism.”
The Ohio attack, which killed 9, doesn’t have as clear a motive, but it’s the same story. Monster gets weapon, uses weapon, innocent people die.
President Donald Trump spoke a lot about changes in a Monday morning statement, but his predecessors have done the same.
Indeed, this president has backpedaled from seemingly strong policy statements after other mass shootings.
In a special front page editorial, a rarity in the newspaper world, the Austin American Statesman’s headline reads “We are better than this. Aren’t we?”
The answer, sadly, is no.
And nobody should believe any differently until there’s evidence to prove it.
Change the city, change the location, change the date — school, night club, movie theater, church, festival — and we all move on, holding our breath until the next one.
But don’t hold your breath for any real change.