In the 14 days after the death of George Floyd, 19 people across the country died in violent protests. Not all the deaths were gun-related, and some of the dead were engaged in criminal activity. Nonetheless, the nation responded with shock and talked of little else in the weeks that followed.
This week, a single gunman killed more than half that number in one hour at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado. All 10 victims, we assume, were innocents.
I’m not particularly interested in the “what’s his name” or the “why he did it.” (The ritual still includes examining a psychopath’s grievances.)
There have been at least 246 mass shootings in the U.S. since January 2009. We know the routine well.
It took no time for the partisan-divide reactions to emerge. Most Democrats said we must tighten the gun laws. Most Republicans who bothered to respond offered only prayers. And the National Rifle Association, as is usually the case after these outrages, went into temporary hiding.
But the public is not divided. Two surveys from 2019 show huge majorities, Republicans as well as Democrats, supporting stricter gun laws. Gun owners want them, too.
Twenty-two dead at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Twenty-six fatally shot at a rural church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Twelve gunned down at a bar in Thousand Oaks. Seventeen students and educators killed at a high school in Parkland, Fla.
Then there were really big ones: the 49 shot to death at the Pulse night club in Orlando and that astounding killing spree in Las Vegas, where a man perched in a hotel window picked off 58 lives at a music festival below.
For unspeakable horror, nothing matched 20 grade school children getting gunned down in Newtown, Conn. The next year, bills banning assault weapons and expanding background checks for gun buyers were introduced in the Senate and defeated.
If that didn’t bring change, can change happen? Yes.
Just as the coronavirus has kept many Americans away from certain public places, so, apparently, has fear of getting shot, according to the American Psychological Association. Nearly a third of adults “feel they cannot go anywhere without worrying about being a victim of a mass shooting.”
A foxhole is a hole in the ground in which soldiers shelter against enemy fire. Americans are now seeking similar protection by avoiding crowds. At some point, they will rebel against these restrictions on their movements. And they’ll do that by voting, by electing officials who will stop mentally ill people from buying assault weapons with magazines that hold 15 rounds of ammunition.
The city of Boulder approved a ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines in 2018. A district court only days ago struck it down, citing a state law that forbids cities and counties from regulating firearms more tightly than the state does. Voters can replace the state legislators who passed this law.
On the national level, Colorado voters might want to replace their own gun-twirling exhibitionist, Lauren Boebert. Elected last year by Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, Boebert glommed on to the nation’s attention by throwing a tantrum when asked to go through a metal detector at the House of Representatives. That was after she loudly encouraged the mob that rampaged through the Capitol.
Democratic candidates are already lining up to take her on in 2024. They include Kerry Donovan, a prominent state senator, and Gregg Smith, a Marine and former CEO of Frontier Services Group.
These mass shootings don’t have to continue with the ferocity and the numbers we’ve come to know — but only if the voters will it. They may be ready. Americans should not have to live in foxholes.
Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.