I know the place: the place where bullets flew and blood flowed the other day, where TV crews set up their trucks for one more gruesome body count.
I know that place. It’s called America.
For those caught up in the moment – fixated as the media are on the most recent “breaking news” to break, I know the place that caught all the nation’s attention Sunday. Yeah, Waco, Texas.
The shootout between biker gangs – nine dead, 18 wounded, 192 arrested — was at a shopping-dining complex a short walk from the home where I raised a family over 25 very good years.
I should be been stunned. I’m not. After all, I know the place — the place called America.
Why be shocked when a leather-and-testosterone gathering at a high-class “breastaurant” — a clientele that day whose reported firearms census was in triple digits — suddenly went boom?
It shouldn’t shock anybody.
I’ll tell you what events should stun and horrify. Take the shooter in Venice, Fla., last week, age 3. The little boy accidentally shot his 1-year-old sister in the face when, unattended in the family car, he found the family handgun.
Then there was the 3-year-old in Albuquerque last year who found a pistol in Mom’s purse. It discharged into the bodies of both his father and his pregnant mother.
They recovered from their wounds, but were charged with felony child abuse. I don’t know why that should be. This is America, after all, where childish acts with firearms are a way of life.
Quick, America. How many Americans have been killed by Ebola virus? That would be one in the last 100 years. OK, expand that globally. The death toll from last year’s Ebola outbreak has crested at 10,000. Horrifying.
Well, medical journal Pediatrics reports that last year alone, gun accidents killed or maimed that same number of children – 10,000 — in this germ-conscious, safety-first, sanctity-of-life nation of ours.
It’s the bloodbath that should cause the gasps. But since it’s a cumulative bloodbath, and since it’s so, so American, it shocks no one.
For one thing, this devastation is just the price of doing business, the selling of all the 310 million firearms now in Americans’ hands, and purses, and glove compartments.
Call it the fantasy business. Too many of us think that all these firearms make us safer, just like the biker gangs, the Cossacks, Bandidos, Valeros and Scimitars all who shot and got shot in Waco.
Forgive them. For like toddlers holding hot metal, they know not what they do. Consider the influences bearing on these bikers’ brains.
The firearms industry has done an amazing job of convincing them, as with so many Americans, that what is not true is true – that guns make us safer. False. One study found that a gun kept in the home made it 43 times more likely that it would kill a family member, a friend, or its owner, than an intruder.
Then you have policy makers like Texas lawmakers who, as the bullets flew in Waco, inched closer to an open-carry law. Yes, that will make everyone safer. Right, Cossacks? You with us, Bandidos?
We all know that a firearm isn’t a tragedy waiting to happen when stored and handled properly at home. But, surprise, most gun owners don’t do the smart thing. For just one instance, a Harvard study of parents who owned firearms found only 43 percent stored them in ways that would not endanger their children.
In other words, even without mounting machines that rumble, strapping on leather with mawkish markings and heading down the interstate for a fight, millions of peace-loving, deluded Americans are courting a horrific ending.
And the news trucks keep motoring to the bloodbath down the street.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org.