Thursday, July 7, 2022

Steven Ivory: There’s No Such Thing as ‘He Acted Alone’

Tulsa gunman Michael Lewis
This photo provided by the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office shows Michael Louis. Police say Louis, who killed his surgeon and three other people at a Tulsa medical office blamed the doctor for his continuing pain after a recent back operation and bought an AR-style rifle just hours before the rampage, police said Thursday, June 2, 2022

*In the wake of the mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, Uvalde, Texas, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and elsewhere, you’ve no doubt heard a lot from politicians and others about gun reform. The declarations have been peppered with the we’re-really-gonna-do-something-about-it-this-time motto, “These feel different.”

And it did feel different. Immediately after both Buffalo and especially Uvalde, it seemed that there was absolutely no way we could continue to ignore the carnage that continues almost daily.

But mere days out from these mass shootings you can already feel the coagulation of any positive movement on stopping people from getting their hands on weaponry better suited for the Russian/Ukraine war than Main Street, U.S.A.

Over the years, there has been some progress regarding gun reform. However, no decrees passed could have altered what has happened in the past few days.

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Buffalo shooter Payton S. Gendron
Buffalo shooter Payton S. Gendron

So, take the somber advice of someone who is equal parts optimist and realist: Don’t get your hopes up. All the “powerful” speeches, the heartfelt soliloquies, the deep vows–they mean nothing. Nothing’s going to change.

I’m not a pessimist. It’s just that based on what I’ve witnessed for years, I’m afraid to believe anything else. Even if there is change, it won’t be enough.

Let’s just face it: If something truly productive were going to happen regarding mass shooters, it would have happened after Columbine.  Certainly after Sandy Hook. It would have happened after all those country music fans were slaughtered in an open-air concert in Las Vegas. Serious, life-saving changes would have happened ages ago.

How utterly dysfunctional of us to keep thinking we can fit the square peg of a meaningful metamorphosis into the round hole of this ongoing madness. America’s fetish for assault weapons is simply too strong. It’s now become ridiculous to think we can expect sensible, effective gun legislation from those members of Congress who continue to cater to the abject fears of a segment of the nation that believes they need assault weapons.

Therefore, to law enforcement, the media, politicians, and others who valiantly use the following  term, I ask that you cease using, “He acted alone.”

The phrase is offered as some sort of consolation or succor. Truth is, in America, no mass shooter acts alone.

Salvador Ramos and AR-15s (Texas DPS-Instagram)
Salvador Ramos and AR-15s (Texas DPS-Instagram)

Yes, he might conure his deviant plan in private.  By himself, he might gather his weapons and ammo, choose his locale, and then go about the diabolical deed of murdering innocent people on his own.

But he is not acting alone. The sick, evil actions of the shooter are facilitated by spineless politicians who care more about the mission of the NRA and assault weapon-worshipping fanatics than protecting the people who elected them.

Why aren’t more Americans in the streets over this ongoing wholesale slaughter of humans? Where are all those people who, shortly after the national mask mandate was announced, complained that wearing one for the sake of their health and others was a violation of their “civil rights”? Do they fear masks more than a mass shooter?

Perhaps they don’t believe that what has happened to thousands of victims over the decades can happen to them. I’d wager that nobody killed or injured during a mass shooting got out of bed that morning believing they or a loved one could be the victim of a mass shooting. It just happens.

And it’s going to keep happening,  because, for a variety of reasons, those able to make such a horrible crime harder to commit aren’t compelled to do anything tangible about it.  So, spare us the “He acted alone” B.S.  These broken, wicked souls don’t act alone. You, Mr./Ms. Powerful Persons on Capitol Hill and beyond, are the devil’s not-so-silent partner.

For the rest of us, it comes down to undemanding vigilance. When we are out and about, let us keep our eyes open. Take stock of your surroundings.  Being aware doesn’t equal paranoia. It’s simply a matter of asking yourself if something goes down, where you will take refuge or how will you escape with your life.

Don’t bother adjusting the Stars and Stripes between these nightmarish events. Just leave the thing at half-mast.

Steven Ivory
Steven Ivory

Steven Ivory, veteran journalist, essayist, and author writes about popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio, TV, and the Internet. Respond to him via STEVRIVORY@AOL.COM

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