Raised … lowered … raised … lowered. The U.S. and state flags can’t get any traction as they move up and down the flag pole with each new shooting tragedy.
Last week, it was in Atlanta, where eight people fell victim to a shooter who bought his gun the same day he used it to kill people.
This week, it’s Boulder, Colorado, where 10 people died when a shooter — who bought his AR-15 assault weapon just six days earlier — gunned down people grocery shopping.
Next week, who knows? It could happen anywhere — and here.
Americans mirror the flags, as with each deadly shooting we cry out in anguish, and then after a period of mourning, we resume our normal routines.
Gone is the offense to our sensibilities as we shrug our shoulders, uttering cliches with conviction: “What can you do?” and “Hey, if someone is intent on killing someone else, you can’t really stop them.”
But we can. We just won’t.
We choose to hold onto our weapons rather than embrace our responsibility to prevent another mass shooting.
There are steps we could take that might make a difference, but instead we wallow in our indifference unless, of course, you are family of those suddenly slain.
Kevin Mahoney, 61, was grocery shopping at the store five minutes from his home when his life was taken. It’s a place familiar to his daughter, Erika, who now lives in California with her husband and is pregnant. She told NPR that she remembers shopping at that grocery store since she was 5 years old.
Her voice breaking, Erika also shared that her dad liked to burst into song, playing off a word someone would say; at the utterance of “It’s going to rain,” for example, Kevin would croon “Singin’ in the Rain.”
His is a life lost that will be grieved forever by his family, a scenario played out among families of gun violence victims across the nation.
We can save at least some lives with common sense gun laws.
Ten states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring customers to wait longer than it takes for a background check before they can walk out of a shop with their new firearm. Where such laws do exist — it doesn’t include Indiana — the length of wait time varies as does the waiting period for different types of firearms. For example, in neighboring Illinois, the waiting period for a shotgun or rifle is 24 hours, but it’s 72 hours for a handgun.
More legislatures across the country are considering instituting a “cooling off” period to protect not only potential victims, but also to guard against self-harm.
Robyn Thomas, executive director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, explained the need for time between gun purchase and possession. “If you’re in a state of crisis, personal crisis, you can do a lot of harm fairly quickly,” she told the Associated Press.
After the recent mass killings, President Joe Biden has called for stricter gun laws, including the banning of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
If such laws already existed, Kevin Mahoney might have gotten to hold his granddaughter.