I am running out of words.
Some crackpot who couldn’t get a date stabs and shoots his way across the Southern California college town of Isla Vista, killing six people and wounding 13 before apparently turning his gun on himself. This happened Friday night. And what shall I say about that?
I mean, I know how this goes. We all do. Weren’t you sort of expecting it when the father of one of the Isla Vista victims blamed his son’s death on the NRA? Would you really be stunned if the NRA countered that none of this would have happened had there been more guns in Isla Vista? And now, this is the part where I am supposed to offer context, to mourn these losses and use them in an argument for sensible gun laws.
We’ve seen it all before, in Newtown, in Tucson, at Virginia Tech, at the Navy Yard in Washington, at that movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. We’ve seen it so much that there is by now a rote sense to it, a sense of going through motions and checking off boxes, of flinging words against indifferent walls with no real expectation the words will change anything — or even be heard.
So I am running out of words. Or maybe just faith in words.
Which ones shall I use? “Sickening?” “Obscene?” “Grotesque?” “Tragic?” You’ve read them all a hundred times. Do they still have power to punch your gut? And what argument shall I use those words to make? Shall I observe that a gun is a weapon of mass destruction and that mentally impaired people should not have access to them? Shall I point out that as a statistical matter, a gun in the home is far more likely to hurt someone you love than to scare off a burglar? Shall I demand we hold our leaders accountable for failing to pass some kind of sensible laws to rein this madness in?
And if I do, do you suppose it will make any difference?