Editorial: Another day, another mass shooting
“There’s one more kid that’ll never go to school, never get to fall in love, never get to be cool…” – Neil Young, “Rocking in the Free World”
When news reports first started trickling in Sunday about an active shooter at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, the latest public massacre was, as always, gut wrenching. Yet, this time, more so.
Long gone is one’s sense of shock and dismay over mass shootings; the feeling of disbelief that lone wolves would scatter multi-rounds of steel at 1,700 mph into a crowd is a thin comfort of the past.
Gun-toting young men shooting at children and grandmas is like a blue moon – most people don’t know exactly when the next one’s coming, but they know one’s coming nonetheless.
So why would 19-year-old Santino William Legan’s murdering three and wounding 12 others hit closer to home in Sonoma than the many larger bloodbaths that have been allowed to occur across the country in recent years?
“A single death is a tragedy,” Joseph Stalin infamously observed. “A million deaths is a statistic.” And he knew a thing or two about it.
What’s particularly disturbing around here is that Gilroy has “Sonoma” written all over it: Longtime agricultural community on the outskirts of a California tech city that’s developed a nationally recognized foodie culture. A small Nor-Cal town with a big identity.
Family picnics, wines by the cup, a local cover band playing Beatles tunes and overpriced nibs on a reusable plate. The Garlic Festival is a bigger event, but think: Sonoma City Party, the Fourth of July parade, the Tuesday farmers market.
Or, don’t. Most would rather not; it’s hardly likely, right?
A 6-year-old, a 13-year-old and a 25-year-old were killed July 28. And so was a 19-year-old. A wretched, cruel, murderous kid; thank goodness the police shot him down that day as quickly as they did. But don’t fool yourselves into dismissing him as an evil Clockwork Orange; some malignant tumor. He was born an innocent baby and molded into what he would become thereafter – just like the rest of us – by the parents he had, the home he lived in, the friends he found and the media he was exposed to. The combination of which led to, according to San Francisco Chronicle reports about what was found in his home in Nevada, a stash of white supremacist literature and reading materials on radical Islam. Oh, and guns. Multiple guns. Plus a gas mask, a bulletproof vest and gun pamphlets. Just your average junk-drawer fodder.
The 6-year-old was a little boy named Stephen Romero; the 13-year-old was a girl named Keyla Salazar. We’ve grown so numb to these killings that Trevor Deon Irby, 25, isn’t highlighted in news reports like the younger kids, as if an adult victim of a mass shooting barely reaches the threshold of tragedy anymore.
We’ve grown to expect the occasional random slaughter now again. According to USAtoday.com, a survey conducted last year by Chapman University showed that 41 percent of Americans actively fear being caught in a mass shooting. It’s not as if they’re being alarmist: a shooting of four or more people occurs in the U.S. an average of once a day, according to researchers at Columbia University. Gun apologists in Congress and at the NRA already know that Americans have gotten to a point where we expect the shootings; what they’re crossing their fingers for next is that we come to accept them, as well.