An American Tragedy

By Juana Carrasco Martin on November 8, 2018

It’s not Theodore Dreiser’s novel, An American Tragedy, but murder is in the plot and it’s a real tragedy that shakes American society almost daily. Thirteen people, including the latest attacker, died when the victims assumed that on Wednesday night they would celebrate with country music at the local university students’ favorite bar in the town of Thousand Oaks, a suburb of affluent residents northwest of Los Angeles, considered the third safest city in the United States.

In cold blood, as Truman Capote’s documentary novel is titled, the Borderline Bar & Grill killer, a 28-year-old ex-marine suffering from post-traumatic stress, indiscriminately fired at least three extended magazines of his Glock 21, 45 caliber automatic pistol after throwing smoke grenades. The gun had been legally purchased…

Twenty-two other people were injured by bullets or injuries during the hasty escape to avoid the shots of Ian David Long, a young man described as angry and irrational by the police who came to his house last April for complaints of disturbing the peace and he was also known to the authorities by two other violent altercations.

As the first call for help, at 11:20 p.m. came in, a sergeant from the sheriff’s office and an officer from the Highway Patrol came immediately to try to neutralize the threat. They were shot and Sergeant Ron Helus fell dead, with 29 years of service and only five months to his retirement.

“It’s a horrible scene. There’s blood everywhere,” Sheriff Dean told reporters. Some of the celebrating students were known to have survived the massacre at the Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas, a massive country concert in which 58 people died and more than 500 were injured on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, under the gunfire of Stephen Paddock, a sober and healthy 64-year-old man.

Just ten days before the new massacre, in  the “safe” Thousand Oaks, an ultra-massacre of 11 faithful at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Oct. 27 took place; and just a week ago another individual fired on a yoga gym in Tallahassee Florida, killing two women and injuring others.

According to the Gun Violence Archive – a nonprofit group that tracks these incidents on a daily basis – between January 1 and October 31, 2018, there have been 47,467 firearm incidents in which12,183 people were killed, 23,759 injured, 560 of the fatalities were children, 2,370 teenagers, 1,701 were armed home invasions, 1,502 incidents used weapons as a defense, 1,332 were unintentional shootings and 301 were mass shootings.

Already those numbers are past history, as the numbers have increased. In the first eight days of November, the United States has witnessed six mass shootings (description for those occurrences in which four or more people have died, not including the gunman), bringing the mass shootings to 307 for the year.

Alarms ring out again and again, and an increasing proportion of Americans are calling for laws that effectively limit or control gun ownership – there are at least 310 million guns in the possession of the nearly 325 million people, approximately 89 weapons for every 100 people, and a total of 48 percent of the 650 million weapons held by civilians worldwide.

Only 27 words of their Constitution give them that “right” and justify a culture of extreme violence, which is officially deployed with organization and participation in almost every war that is occurring in today’s world.

However, President Donald Trump and many of the legislators are deaf to the petition.

After the Thousands Oaks event, Trump, in his usual way of “facing” the problems, immediately tweet: “I have been fully informed of the terrible shooting in California (…) God bless the victims and relatives of the victims. Thanks to law enforcement.

The National Rifle Association is the champion of these massacres. In 2017 weapons were sold in the United States for $41.93 billion, the same revenue as Facebook. Everything is resolved.

Source: Juventud Rebelde, translation Walter Lippmann