The casualties of a mass shooting are not only those killed or wounded in the burst of gunfire. The damage reverberates, often for years, sometimes magnifying a family’s tragedy.
Sadly, this country has borne witness to that awful truth many times. And we are reeling once again, this time from the recent news that three people connected to two of our worst national nightmares took their own lives.
Two attended the Parkland, Florida, high school where 17 people were killed last year. One was a current student, the other a 2018 graduate struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and survivor’s guilt after a close friend was slaughtered. On Monday, the father of a first-grader killed in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut was found dead in an apparent suicide in the building that housed a program he founded to support research on brain abnormalities linked to violent behavior.
Still, Congress refuses to pass sensible gun control legislation. But on Tuesday, the Republican-controlled Senate did finally hold a gun control hearing. The Judiciary Committee heard testimony about “red flag” laws that define under what circumstances authorities can confiscate guns from people deemed to be risks to themselves or others.
Chairman Lindsey Graham said Congress should be able to pass legislation to incentivize states to pass red flag laws like those adopted in 14 states, including New York. But Graham ruled out federal legislation, which would be far more effective.
And the Senate is unlikely to pass a bill approved in the House to mandate background checks on all gun sales, a measure backed by most Americans. That’s distressing; New Zealand banned automatic weapons six days after 50 people were killed there earlier this month.
The only bright spot: President Donald Trump’s new regulation banning bump stocks — which enable rapid firing of semiautomatic guns and were used by the Las Vegas gunman to kill 59 people in 2017 — did take effect Tuesday despite gun-rights activists seeking court injunctions.
So we muddle along — overwhelmed by the endless tragedy of gun violence, angered by the shameful lack of action in Congress to do anything about it.