Sanders: Latest mass shooting in D.C. likely to increase gun sales

September 21, 2013 

Another mass shooting — 12 dead in this one, plus the shooter — and the nation once again stands paralyzed in shock, not knowing how to react.

The sad thing, besides the obvious loss of life and the traumatized surviving victims, is that there is only one consequence we can count on as a result of this latest tragedy: Gun sales will soar.

That has been the trend in recent years as the country has experienced increasing incidences of gun violence. It happened after Virginia Tech in 2007, Tucson in 2011 and, of course, after Newtown, Conn., last December.

Every time there’s a mass killing with firearms, gun owners in particular (along with thousands of others) become nervous or frightened, not about their own lives possibly being in danger, but they become obsessed with the notion that the government is coming to take their weapons away or somehow prevent them from obtaining one.

It never fails.

When the conversation starts about more gun regulation, as it inevitably does following one of these deadly occurrences, the pro-gun forces retrench and reload for their ever-raging battle against the politicians, advocacy groups and grieving relatives of victims who push for a change in the laws.

At the same time, people flood the stores, gun shows and online sites to buy weapons to increase their arsenals and stockpile ammunition.

Many of us thought — or at least hoped — that the Newtown massacre would be our country’s wake-up call. After all, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting had claimed the lives of 26 people, 20 of them precious, helpless first graders.

We undoubtedly were naive in thinking that such a horrible crime would mobilize the public and the politicians into demanding action to ban at least the sale of assault rifles. It didn’t take long for the National Rifle Association to have members of Congress quivering in their boots, too afraid to do the right thing.

When I think back, I should have realized that the Sandy Hook shootings would have little more impact on the nation’s conscience than any of the other mass shootings in recent years.

Why would that one incident make a difference, considering we’ve had multiple children killed before?

Figures compiled by McClatchy/Tribune News Service show that in the past seven years, beginning with Virginia Tech, there have been 17 mass shootings in the United States, resulting in 193 deaths. In 2009, there were five such incidents that claimed 50 lives, and last year 52 people were killed in four mass murders in which firearms were used.

Now, we add the nation’s capital to the list of sites where innocent people going about their daily routine are ambushed by a crazed gunman. The shooting in the Washington Navy Yard hit close to home because the alleged shooter had lived and worked for a while in Fort Worth and was acquainted with some of my newspaper colleagues.

Regardless of where these insane attacks take place, or where the perpetrator may have resided, these are national tragedies that we ought to try to find a way to reduce even if we can’t prevent them all. Unfortunately, there won’t be any serious efforts toward that end.

There will be some discussion about more gun regulation, but for the most part the country soon will return to business as usual — until the next horrific incident.

As for our elected officials, they will remain mostly silent except for the “shocked and saddened” statements they issue after each tragedy.

Considering the NRA-supported recall of two Colorado state senators this month, even fewer politicians are likely to stand up for laws that could reduce the number of guns in our society.

It’s too bad that the only people who will benefit from this latest mass killings are the gun sellers.

Email Mr. Sanders at bobray@star-telegram.com.

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