The casualty count from San Bernardino is 14 people dead and 17 more wounded after heavily armed assailants wearing masks and camouflage stormed into the Inland Regional Center and began shooting. Two suspects — a man and a woman — were killed in a gun battle with police. So far, the motive is unclear, but, as I write this, speculation is homing in on a disgruntled employee, Syed Farook, 28, U.S.-born with a Middle Eastern background.
Reacting to the shooting during a CBS interview, President Obama said, "The one thing we do know is that we have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world."
Last week, it was the lone shooter at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo. In October, it was students and teachers being gunned down at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore. So far in 2015, there have been more mass shootings — four victims or more — than there have been days. The terrorist attack in Paris that killed 130 innocent people two weeks ago took more lives than any individual incident in this country, but, in addition to the death toll, the shock of the Paris massacre was that it was out of the ordinary for the French. Their reaction was to declare war against Islamic State, the terrorist group that planned the attack. When will the United States declare war against the ceaseless shootings on home soil?
It is possible that a foreign villain will be discovered behind the San Bernardino slaughter, but it seems far more likely that the shooters were driven by personal motivations. One thing that they reportedly have in common with all the shooters in the U.S. is that they easily and, apparently, legally, obtained firearms that, in other advanced countries, are available only to the military and police.
The president may be wrong; there may well be another place in the world — perhaps in the Middle East or among the anarchic, destitute countries in Africa — where mass shootings are just as common as they are here. The difference, though, is that the United States is supposed to be the beacon of the civilized world. Instead, we are a nation under the gun, and we seem incapable of doing anything about it.
Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush and Rand Paul, as well as Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, all issued statements saying their thoughts and prayers were with the victims in San Bernardino, but none of them — and very few of their GOP colleagues — are willing to do anything to put sensible restrictions on the unfettered access to the guns that are used in the daily slaughter of Americans.
There is a long list of suspicious people on federal no-fly lists, but any one of those people is perfectly free to buy an assault rifle at a gun show without a background check. This is not only the definition of insanity, it is also the result of cowardly political pandering on the part of Republicans who care more about pleasing the extremist leaders of the gun lobby than taking even the most modest steps to protect U.S. citizens from angry, disturbed people with easy access to weapons.
SAN BERNARDINO SHOOTING