Play the tape again.
Eleven people who were going about their lives at a bar in Thousand Oaks Wednesday night are not alive today; neither is an officer who rushed to help them. The man suspected of being responsible for those deaths — a young military veteran believed to have suffered mental trauma — is also dead. Police say he used a gun with an extended magazine to fire on the unsuspecting crowd before killing himself.
These details alone are enough to prompt sadness and anger from our letter writers. But the real outrage — expressed mostly in forceful, polished, complex sentences, as anger rarely is, because our readers have had plenty of practice writing about gun violence — is stirred by the knowledge that mass shootings in public places have become routine.
Tom Moran of Bakersfield believes we no longer have the right to be surprised:
Friday was the 312th day of the year. There have been almost as many mass shootings, incidents in which four or more people have been shot, as there have been days in 2018.
Pro-gun politicians and the National Rifle Assn. consider this collateral damage — acceptable losses — in their lucrative interdependence. It’s simply the cost of doing business. These inexplicable atrocities will continue unabated and many more people will die.
Due to our inaction, we forfeit the right to be stunned when it happens to us or to someone we love. How dare we feign surprise in the face of such certainty?
Some time in the next weeks people will die in a mass shooting, as sure as the sun rises and sets.
Barbara Marcus of Sherman Oaks puts a twist on “thoughts and prayers”:
I wish to be the absolute first to offer my thoughts and prayers to the victims of the next mass shooting. My thought and prayer at the moment is that I will not be among the next group of victims.
Oh, and my thoughts and prayers extend to all those who believe that their thoughts and prayers absolve them from the duty to demand real and workable gun control laws.
Paul Bergman of Pasadena mentions the president:
There has been yet another mass shooting, this time in Thousand Oaks.
The shooter? An American citizen, yet again. Armed personnel on site? Yes, yet again.
Gee, is it possible that undocumented people are not our greatest threat? Is it possible that greater safety requires fewer guns rather than more? Is it possible that the president will come to his senses?
Hint: The answer to two of these questions is yes.
Trent Sanders of La Cañada Flintridge points to the media:
With this latest shooting in Thousand Oaks, there is again the usual knee-jerk “ban all guns” reaction. And yes, guns are certainly responsible, but the media also bear a large responsibility for these tragedies.
The never-ending, day-after-day coverage of these shootings glorifies the act in the minds of unstable and deranged people. “Here’s how I can get my 15 minutes of fame,” they think.
Yes, the media have an absolute 1st Amendment right to cover mass shootings, but they also have a moral responsibility not to help cause a problem.
Altadena resident Michael Davidson says the right to bear arms has been abused:
It’s not more complicated than this:
Americans have the right to own guns. Every right has responsibilities. When rights are abused, we take them away.
The only remaining question is how we take them away.
Carol Marshall of Placentia parses the 2nd Amendment:
The first words of the 2nd Amendment are “a well-regulated militia,” which was the framers’ way of saying “military.” They understood guns were necessary in times of war.
Doesn’t anybody read the Constitution? Not the NRA, evidently.