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Michael A. Cohen

America, the land of gun violence

Law enforcement officials walked with weapons drawn outside a social services center in San Bernardino, Calif., as they responded to reports of a shooting Wednesday. Officials later said at least 14 people were killed. KTTV via AP

Wednesday afternoon, I sat down at my computer. I wanted to write something on the strange disconnect of Republican politicians like Marco Rubio and Chris Christie complaining that an end to the National Security Agency’s metadata gathering program this week made Americans “less safe’’ — only days after yet another mass shooting, this time in Colorado.

I wanted to point out that while Rubio and Christie talk about the threat of terrorism and the need for vigilance in combating it, they have far less to say — and offer few ideas — about the daily drumbeat of American gun violence. In fact, Rubio thinks “in cases of mental illness or in the cases of someone who just wants a gun to carry out a crime, they’re not going to follow the law” — so, really what can we do? Christie, who in the past signed several gun control measures in New Jersey, recently vetoed a bill that would have made it harder for those accused or convicted of domestic violence from getting a gun. I wanted to make the argument that if these politicians really cared about keeping Americans safe from random and indiscriminate violence, they would do something about gun violence in America.


That’s what I was going to write about . . . and then it happened again.

This time it was San Bernardino, Calif.

One can’t even take the time to write about the latest mass shooting — and the tragic, needless deaths of Americans from gun violence — before another attack occurs, taking more lives.

Make no mistake: This is America.

It is a land where guns end more than 80 American lives every day. It is a land where more than 30,000 of our fellow citizens are killed every year in gun violence. It is a land where countless sons and daughters grow up without their father or mother; where countless husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, friends and lovers never get a chance to say goodbye, and all too many children don’t grow old.


This is America.

This is what we, as Americans, through our inaction and our lack of outrage, have allowed to happen. We’ve empowered the NRA, the gun manufacturers, and the “2A” activists, who seemingly love their guns more than they do their fellow citizens. We’ve refused to punish legislators on the state and federal level who offer empty prayers after the latest mass shooting but are too cowardly to stand up to the gun lobby as they reject overwhelmingly popular gun control measures, like background checks, or vote for bills that further expand the “rights” of Americans to arm themselves and carry their weapons into stores, schools, and restaurants.

We’ve fallen for the dishonest argument that America’s daily epidemic of mass shootings is a result of poor mental health screening, as if America is the only country in the world where people suffer from mental illness. In reality, we’re the only country in the world that allows people, whether they have a mental illness or not, to have easy access to guns. The result of that policy decision plays out every day in the United States. Last week it was Colorado Springs. This week it’s San Bernardino. No one knows who will be next.

The only certainty is that it will happen again ... and again ... and again. That isn’t in question.


This is America.

The only real question worth asking is: When will we say “enough”?

Michael A. Cohen’s column appears regularly in the Globe. Follow him on Twitter @speechboy71.