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Once Again, It's Time For The 'Empty Rituals' Of Gun Massacres

A decade ago, after the the gun massacre at a theater in Aurora, Co., journalist James Fallows wrote “The Certainty of More Shootings. He had visited the site of the "Port Arthur Massacre," in Tasmania, where in 1996 a disturbed young man shot and killed 35 people and wounded 23 more. Afterwards, Australia tightened up its gun laws, and there has been nothing remotely comparable in all the years since. In every other developed country, changes have been made, and they have made a difference. Australia, Scotland, Norway, Canada, Germany, Finland—these and other countries have had occasional horrific mass shootings. These countries have just as high a proportion of mentally ill people as the U.S. just as many with pent-up grievances. Only the U.S. has an endless series of gun killings, writes Fallows after shootings in Buffalo an Uvalde, Tx., about the "empty rituals" of gun massacres.

Fallows blame Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell for blocking federal gun control measures after the Newtown, Ct., school killings. Now, he says it is the "children and teachers of Uvalde ... who deserve a vote, As do the families of Buffalo, and of hundreds of other places." The pattern after a massacre is familiar: Cable channels give it wall-to-wall coverage, the National Rifle Association ducks its head down and goes dark for hours or days, politicians who have done everything possible to oppose changes in gun laws offer “thoughts and prayers” to the victims, say they are “deeply saddened,” praise heroes of law enforcement and of medical treatment who have tried to limit the damage, "and lament the mental-health or cultural problems that have expressed themselves via an AR-15." Politicians say that the aftermath of a shooting is “not the right time” to “politicize” the tragedy by talking about gun laws or asking why only in America do massacres happen week after week after week. The right time to discuss these policies is “never.” The next shooting comes, “thoughts and prayers” are offered, and the cycle resumes, Fallows says.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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