This morning we again awoke to a mass killing; this time there are 26 innocent people dead, including an 18 month old baby and at least 20 more wounded in a small Texas town. Nearly everyone in a small Sutherland, Texas church was causality. Apparently had additional people been present in the Sutherland 1st Baptist Church, more would have been killed or wounded. Still in terms of the number of people who died, this Texas tragedy was among the worst five mass shooting incidents in our country’s recent history.
The other four were:
4th 12/14/2012: Sandy Hook School, Newtown, Connecticut – 27 deaths – A 20 year old man shot and killed 20 first-graders and six adult school staff members. Not included in the death count at the school was the shooter’s mother who he killed at home before proceeding to the school.
3rd 4/16/2007: Virginia Tech University shooting, Blacksburg, Virginia – 31 deaths – A Virginia Tech student killed five professors and 26 fellow students on the Blacksburg, Virginia campus.
2nd 6/12/17: Pulse Nightclub shooting, Orlando, Florida – 49 deaths – A former security guard shot and killed 49 and injured dozens more inside of an Orlando gay nightclub called Pulse. He was apparently ISIS inspired.
1st 10/1/17: Route 91 Harvest Festival, Las Vegas, Nevada – 59 deaths – A lone gunman in a hotel room the Mandalay Bay Resort opened fire upon thousands concert attendees below killing 59 people and injuring more than 500.
While the five gunmen who executed so many people presumably had very different motives, there are patterns in these five mass tragedies. One fact which should frighten all of us is the fact that the five worst mass murders in recent history occurred at ever decreasing intervals. Over five years elapsed between the Virginia Tech shooting and the killing of first graders in the Sandy Hook School. The Connecticut tragedy occurred four and half years before the Pulse Night Club murders. However, that Orlando shooting occurred less than four months before hundreds of concert goers were mowed down by automatic rifle fire in Las Vegas. Then only a little more than a month has gone by and 26 people whose only mistake was attending Sunday church services are no longer with us.
More importantly, only a fool or the NRA would ignore the fact that in the last four of these mass shooting were committed by gunmen firing assault weapons. The gunman who murdered 31 people on the Virginia Tech campus in 2007 was armed with only a 9 mm hand gun and a 22 caliber rifle. That was before assault rifles with high capacity magazines became the mass murders’ weapons of choice. How many more might that Virginia Tech student been able to kill had be been armed with an assault weapon?
Right now there probably other would be killers planning to end the lives of as many people as possible before leaving this world in a “blaze of glory”. Surely their plans include obtaining, legally or illegally, assault weapons such as one of the popular AR-15 variants, high capacity magazines, and enough ammunition to mow down a small army. They have learned by the example of others that assault weapons are the best killing machines readily available on the American market. They are light, easy to hide, and designed with only one objective in mind, killing people. As the killer in Las Vegas proved in his deadly rampage, you don’t even have to proficient with one of these weapons. All you have to do is aim at the middle of a large crowd of people and then move the mussel around while spraying automatic or semi automatic bursts.
And there is one last thing we learned from the Texas mass murders and those that preceded it –these incidents will continue to occur, perhaps with ever increasing frequency, until we take all of these weapons of war off of our streets. If killers are going to continue to kill indiscriminately, let them try to do so with knives or pistols and rifles which they have to reload frequently. Then perhaps then they can be stopped before too many others have to die.