Pictured above are *some* of the supplies the man (identified as John Zawahri) suspected of going on a multiple location shooting spree in Santa Monica yesterday brought with him. If that is unsettling, remember that the NRA is actively making sure that owning this much ammunition and those type of deadly firearms is completely legal. If they hoped we would have forgotten about Newtown by now, their “responsible gun owners” keep reminding us why we must not.
John Zawahri’s motives for the killings are unclear, but I’m here to argue that they don’t matter. I have absolutely no interest in hearing why he went on this deadly rampage. No grievance, or slight, or ideological agenda could justify or explain this event. The only truly important detail we need is something we already know:
A family friend of the gunman who killed four people during a Santa Monica shooting rampage said he had an intense interest in guns.
The friend, who asked not to be identified, said John Zawahri, 24, had “a fascination with guns. We were all worried about it…. Everyone is wondering where he got the money for the weapons.”
A fascination with guns. That’s the gun powder in the barrel, so does it really matter what kind of match was used to light it? Can we even keep calling these events tragedies any more? Just like we can’t keep calling things like the shooting of a father by his 4 year old son an “accident”, the nomenclature is misleading. They are a product of our own design. These are part of a pattern and they will continue to happen until we decide enough is enough. And enough is enough. It has been enough. For a brief moment after Newtown it looked as though we had seen that, but then we let it slip through our hands. Again. And now five more people are dead.
The assault weapons ban failed. The gun the suspect used to kill four people and injure five more is still allowed in most places (a few states were brave enough to be the change the federal government failed to be). Taking that gun from him would have, the NRA argued, infringed upon his rights. Somehow, the NRA has framed the debate in such a way, that anything this man does up until the bullet enters another human being’s body makes him, not only a law abiding citizen, but also a paragon of society. If we must have gun owners at all, do we really need to worship them as well? Let’s not pretend that they are supermen who bravely protect our free democracy. Most are just selfish and want their toys. Some have a fascination with guns that leads to murder. Neither should be worshiped.
It’s been pointed out that spree killings and mass murders make up a small fraction of total deaths by guns each year. This is true, and should be taken into account when making future gun laws, but what makes spree killings and mass murders so different is how easy it would be to reduce their impact. We will most likely never be able to stop a person when he (and let’s be honest, it’s almost always a “he”) decides he wants to take the lives of people and doesn’t care who they are or how he will do it, but that doesn’t mean preventing him from getting military grade weapons should be off the table. Owning 1,200 rounds of ammunition as this suspect did, or using a semi-automatic AR-15, are easy things we can target when thinking about gun control. It shouldn’t even be controversial because it doesn’t take away “guns”, just *some* guns. It doesn’t take away ammo, just limits it to a reasonable amount. You can still go to the firing range to shoot. You can still protect your family if there is a dangerous intruder (although I wouldn’t recommend it).
The entire episode in Santa Monica lasted about 10 minutes. 10 minutes from start to finish. If this guy had a gun that only held 10 bullets, it would have given at least some of the victims a fighting chance to flee. Instead, he barely had to pause. That’s a problem and these are simple things we can do to prevent tragic deaths. They aren’t expensive. They aren’t complicated. They aren’t intrusive. But instead, let’s watch as the conversation gets muddied yet again by arguments that ignore all semblance of reason and instead pervert the message into hyperbolic nonsense that prevents any meaningful change (which, as I’ve said again and again, is precisely the point).
Because this isn’t Newtown, and because the media has way too many juicy stories to work through right now (Doesn’t the word “spying” just have a marketable ring to it?), this story won’t lead to any results in gun control. The people who were murdered for no other reason than the spending power of the NRA and the indifference of the average American will be forgotten except by those who knew and loved them. Instead, this story will be placed in the pile of other stories that exposes the inconvenient truth that guns don’t kill people, people with a fascination with guns and easy access to them protected by powerful interest groups with tangible, quantifiable financial stakes in gun sales kill people.
Even better, we can focus on his Muslim sounding name and forget that guns were used at all.
This is madness.