When some American (almost always) man (even more almost always) takes a gun and shoots and kills a large number of strangers, there are several ways we can react. We can ignore it entirely, which is how we tend to address the vast majority of mass shootings that take place almost daily now. Or we can try to make sense of it, and consider how deaths like these could be avoided in the future:
Or we could note that some conservatives tend to respond to every mass shooting by blaming Muslims and undocumented immigrants even when there’s no evidence for this, or else offering generic “thoughts and prayers” to avoid thinking about how their own policies may have contributed to this latest massacre. Done and done.
Or we could throw up our hands and complain about how hard it is to do anything at all, because American men like shooting guns and in a free country how’re you going to stop them from shooting them at people sometimes, but the Los Angeles Times op-ed page has that covered, so thankfully we don’t have to.
Or we could just cry, a lot. Which doesn’t help solve America’s sickness of male mass gun violence, but then, writing about all the ways our nation could begin to fix it but refuses to doesn’t seem to have done the job yet either. There’s always hope that one more essay, one more impassioned argument, will begin to turn that tide. Because until we can address once and for all the reasons why America is the only nation plagued with gun violence, we’re left with little to do but mourn, not just for the latest round of dead children and grieving families, but for a nation whose current political leaders have apparently decided that this is fine.