This is how low we've sunk. At this moment in the United States of America there are those among us actually arguing about what exactly constitutes a real school shooting.
It all began shortly after the latest episode of gun violence which occurred Tuesday at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Oregon. A freshman, 14 year old Emilio Hoffman was murdered by 15 year old Jared Padgett who had smuggled an AR-15 into the gym by concealing it in a guitar case. The shooter also wounded a teacher before engaging in a brief gunfight with police. The media is now reporting Jared Padgett ended the violence by taking his own life. That is nothing astonishingly different, neither is the news he got the weapon from his family's weapons cache which was supposedly secured.
As usual, no one knows why he went off the deep end. According to several reports he was devoutly religious and a member of the high school JROTC. He and his father loved to hunt, so there were a lot of guns around his home and he was familiar with them. His parents were divorced, but the emotional effects young Jared suffered are not clear at this time. And, unlike Jerad and Amanda Miller, the right wing fiends in Las Vegas who, on Sunday, killed two cops and a civilian, he didn't have a criminal record. In addition, police have not been able to find a connection between him and either victim. Yes, it appears they had made the mistake so many have. They were in what they thought was a safe place at the wrong time.
Shortly after this newest outrage a group called Everytown for Gun Safety sent out a press release claiming the Oregon shooting was the 74th since the nightmare at Newtown, CT a year and a half ago. Everytown is a group being financed by former New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg. CNN, Jon Stewart from "The Daily Show," and Barack Obama among others have cited the number.
Now right wing hacks are crawling out of the woodwork claiming Everytown's figure is wildly exaggerated. They maintain it is just another piece of left wing propaganda which is geared to stoke the fires of anti gun hysteria. One of these yokels, Barney Franken goes so far as say Everytown's figure is 1000% too high.
Today even CNN felt it necessary to differentiate between the "types" of gun violence in American schools. According to their updated statistics there have been only 15 "active shooter" incidents since Newtown. In other words since December 2012 about once every five weeks, or so someone has walked into a school, or onto the grounds of one and opened fire at students and teachers for no other reason than they were nuts and could. The remainder of the 74 shootings have been due to "personal arguments, gang activity, drug deals, or accidents."
Oh yeah, I'm so glad we up cleared that discrepancy. Obviously things are far more under control than we've been led to believe. Besides, we wouldn't want to confuse those other 59 perpetrators and idiots with crazy people like Adam Lanza, Elliot Rodger, or Jared Padgett. Indeed, if you have a real reason to open fire--you know, at someone specific--it really shouldn't count as a school shooting. Hey, you're not nearly as crackers as a wolverine on meth if you have a motive we can all, at some level, understand.
The truth is no other industrialized country in the world allows the proliferation of guns like we do. At the same time no other industrialized nation expects, or suffers through, school shooting tragedies as often as we have. They and their peoples simply won't tolerate the barbarity of these monstrous attacks.
Will somebody please finally do the math? Afterwards, you can then explain to me how we're any more free than people in places like Japan, Britain, Australia and western Europe.
Ok, you probably won't. Today's OKC newspaper relegated the story of Emilo Hoffman's death to not much more than a paragraph on page three. He has become, within 72 hours, old news.
Such is the state of the union--we watch as our kids and their teachers are gunned down time and time again while many of us howl to the moon their deaths are the price we pay for the privilege of being Americans.
The ultimate tragedy here, beyond the grotesque firearm fetish, is after all the never ending carnage, we've become so brutally calloused and politically divided, we are capable of carrying on a debate about what counts as real gun violence in our schools and what doesn't.
Well, pardon me, but here is a clue--if the little fucker shoots, no matter what the reason, it is gun violence.
No wonder we are held in such high regard across the globe when it comes to this issue.