We’ve reached a point in America where there are subcategories of mass shootings. The massacre at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, which left 26 dead and 20 wounded, is the worst mass shooting at a house of worship in American history and the fifth deadliest overall. The five deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history have all happened in the last ten years. The deadliest mass shooting, which left 58 dead in Las Vegas, happened just over a month ago.
What we know about the shooting in Sutherland Springs is horrific. Devin Patrick Kelley, a 26-year-old who was discharged for “bad conduct” from the Air Force after he was charged in 2012 with abusing his wife and child, walked into a small Baptist church clad in black, wearing a ballistic vest and carrying an AR-15, and opened fire. The victims include a number of children, including the pastor’s daughter, and a pregnant woman; they range in age from 5 to 72.
Unlike in Las Vegas, motives abound. Kelley’s history of domestic abuse, his atheism, and his aggressive and solitary personality have been cited by a variety of networks. Republicans and the gun lobby are once again gearing up for the gun control fight that never quite materialized after the massacre in Las Vegas, even though there was bipartisan consensus that something should be done about bump stocks, which turn semiautomatic weapons into de facto automatic weapons. Gun activists are energized by reports that a “good guy with a gun” may have helped end Kelley’s rampage. In Japan, the president preemptively dismissed arguments for more gun control. “Mental health problem at the highest level” was to blame, he said, not “a guns situation,” claiming that Kelley was a “very deranged individual.”
Senator Chris Murphy, who released a powerful statement ripping his colleagues for their failure to act after Las Vegas, released another powerful statement ripping his colleagues for their failure to act. “My heart breaks for Sutherland Springs. Just like it still does for Las Vegas. And Orlando. And Charleston. And Aurora. And Blacksburg. And Newtown. Just like it does every night for Chicago. And New Orleans. And Baltimore. And Bridgeport. The terrifying fact is that no one is safe so long as Congress chooses to do absolutely nothing in the face of this epidemic. The time is now for Congress to shed its cowardly cover and do something.” Murphy is right, of course—children have once again been murdered in a rampage and there is no expectation that it will change anything.