The attack Wednesday morning on congressional Republicans while they practiced for a charity baseball game was both tragic and senseless.
Unfortunately, the attack was also all too familiar, as is the pattern that plays out after such acts of violence. The mass shooting was the 154th of the year, on the year’s 165th day. It took mere hours for mass shooting No. 155 to take place: at a San Francisco package delivery facility later Wednesday.
The attack in Virginia on Wednesday was apparently carried out by a Republican-hating activist who previously served on the campaign of former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Conservative commentators wasted little time blaming Democrats for fostering an environment in which it is OK to hate Republicans.
The shooting brought to memory the attempted assassination of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. After that attack, Democrats blamed former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for posting a map with crosshairs over several Democratic seats to target, including Giffords’.
The impulse to find someone to blame is understandable but not helpful.
The response on access to guns is always predictable after shootings such as these. Anti-gun activists decry how easy it is for dangerous people to gain access to firearms and propose limitations. Gun-rights activists push for more access, suggesting the victims could have defended themselves if they’d had guns.
Officials on both sides of the political aisle called for unity Wednesday, as is always the case. When unity is ever realized after such attacks, it is fleeting.
It is clear that there is strong, bitter disagreement over how to govern this country and over how accessible guns should be. It sometimes seems impossible to have a civil conversation with somebody on the opposite side of either position.
But there should be no disagreement over this: 155 mass shootings in 165 days is a sign that this country has a disease. And until we are ready to have serious, difficult, respectful conversations with each other, we will never be able to cure it.
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