Awoke this morning to find news of a second mass killing by a madman with an assault-style weapon leaves even a professional cynic like a newspaperman numb.
On the heels of the 21-year-old Texan who expressed hatred of Hispanic immigrants, killed 20 and wounded 26 more with an AK-47 at a Walmart in El Paso, we have another shooter in Ohio wearing body armor firing his .223 AR-15 at a popular Dayton nightspot area.
Texas has a suspect in custody and police there say he is the killer. Police in Ohio gunned down the shooter and their leaders say a fast response prevented more carnage.
The pair of shooters that killed at least 29 people and wounded many more Saturday and early Sunday morning isn’t the first to gun down people who were trying to go about their daily lives in public places.
Mass shootings with multiple deaths have become commonplace in America. In most cases, the cause is hate for a religious group like Muslims or an issue like immigration or a lifestyle like gays.
The estimated 3,000 shoppers in Walmart in Texas were taking advantage of back-to-school deals and the patrons in the Oregon District of Dayton were trying to have a good time in what is considered a “safe area” of that Midwestern city.
In too many cases, the shooters are driven by fear and bigotry stoked by political leaders, including the president of the United States. Mass shootings have terrorized this country before Donald Trump took office. Timothy McVeigh bombed the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 and injuring 680 in the largest domestic terrorist act in America in 1995, long before this nation had a tea party inflating the nation’s rhetoric or a Trump cashing in on growing national hatred.
But what was considered a singular act by McVeigh is now commonplace. The shootings in Texas on Saturday and the one early Sunday add up 251 mass shooting involving deaths in the past 216 days — more than one a day in 2019.
As gunfire ripped through America in an unprecedented 24 hours, a bleak milestone in a nation pocked by gun violence was marked: There have been 251 mass shootings in 2019.
The bloody 24 hours also came in a particularly painful week: Two people were shot and killed at a Walmart store in Southaven, Mississippi, south of Memphis on Tuesday, and three people were killed by gunfire Sunday at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in northern California. Early Sunday, police said that at least nine people were killed and 16 others injured in a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, less than 24 hours following the El Paso massacre.
And it follows two other high-profile shootings earlier this year.
A longtime city worker opened fire in a building that houses Virginia Beach government offices on May 31, killing 12 before he was gunned down by police.
On Feb. 15, an employee at a manufacturing plant in Aurora, Illinois, opened fire during a disciplinary meeting where he was dismissed. He wounded one other employee and five of the first police officers to arrive at the suburban Chicago plant before he was killed during a shootout with police.
In 2017, Stephen Paddock set up AR-15 assault-style rifles on tripods in his high-roller hotel suite on the Las Vegas strip and used “bump stocks” to turn them into rapid-fire pseudo automatics to spray the street and a concert on the street, killing 58 and wounding 422. He killed himself to evade capture.
Is this what America has become?