Commentary: Gone to graveyards, everyone

By John Krull
TheStatehouseFile.com 

INDIANAPOLIS – Maybe we need a wall.

That’s what I find myself thinking in these sad hours after the tragedy in Las Vegas, the deadliest mass shooting in American history, an act of carnage in which more than 50 people were killed and hundreds of others injured.

John Krull, publisher, TheStatehouseFile.com

I’m not talking about a wall along a border.

No, I’m thinking about something more along the lines of the Vietnam War Memorial. It would be a monument to our moral obliviousness, a place where we could etch the names of the fallen in stone, where we could stop and ponder the consequences of doing nothing in the face of horror after horror after horror.

I’ve been to the Vietnam Wall many times. Like many people my age, I knew people who served in that faraway country. I use the past tense because some of them didn’t come home. Others came back with wounds that never healed.

Every time I look at that wall, I think about how many lives would have been better if we’d just been a bit more cautious, more prudent, a little wiser before we sent our young people out to kill or be killed.

If we’d cared a little more.

That wall prods me to consider what happens when we abdicate our moral responsibility to consider the consequences of doing something.

Or doing nothing.

That the rampage in Las Vegas was predictable adds to the sense of tragedy. We have become so deadened to the horrors of mass shootings in this country that they no longer even dominate the news unless the body count reaches double figures or a congressman is shot.

We lead the developed world by a wide, wide, wide margin when it comes to gun-related deaths. There are, in fact, war zones where the body counts aren’t as high as the ones we Americans rack up each year.

As predictable as the shooting was, what follows it is even more predictable.

Concerned citizens will cry for action.

The flacks at the National Rifle Association, their hirelings in elected office and other gun lobby fellow travelers will seize on some obscure point – the fact that the shooter once had an expired driver’s license, didn’t pay his taxes or even let the trash pile up behind his house – to argue that no change in gun laws could have stopped this from happening.

It won’t matter whether the “fact” is true or not, because the gun lobby’s goal isn’t to win the argument.

No, it is to cloud the issue, to build delay into the discussion and process, to wait for the next outrageous tweet from the White House or natural disaster to divert our attention.

To wait for us all to go back to sleep again.

The choir directors at the NRA aren’t stupid, even if some of the chorus members are exceedingly gullible. They know their argument that gun laws can’t possibly work is absurd.

If the laws-can’t-work argument were true, then the fact that some people speed or drive recklessly would be an argument against, rather than for, speed limits, stoplights and other traffic regulations.

It is because the gun lobby doesn’t have a strong argument that its minions instead resort to throwing up smokescreens, shouting down opposition and doing everything they can to thwart honest and open discussion of the role guns might play in the carnage in our streets.

They know the American attention span is short, while their agenda is long.

The cost of our silence – our abdication – is steep.

In Las Vegas now, more than 50 people are dead, their last seconds on earth filled with terror. Hundreds of others survive with scars upon their bodies and souls that will be a long time healing, if they ever do.

This is but the latest of our gun-related horrors.

Doubtless, there will be more such tragedies in the days ahead, particularly if we continue to do nothing.

Yeah, I think a national memorial with the names of gun victims carved in it would be a good idea.

It would be a place for those who have lost loved ones to mourn those dear to them.

And damn the rest of us for not doing anything about it.

John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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