I have watched the events of the past days in Chattanooga in horror. I used to live there and the shooting sites were not far from my house.
It is hard to be surprised anymore. Each atrocity, each horror is new and jarring and unbelievable but after a couple of days it begins to feel like a place you have been before and the real horror is not simply that it happened but that increasingly it is harder and harder to see this as a country where it might stop happening.
Murder seems for too many to almost about self expression. It is about who they are, what they stand for and how much they matter. Guns seem increasingly an extension of self, as much political or philosophical statement as anything. It is about making a point, a claim, somehow about being more than one of those people who just put up with things. When guns become how you make your point and everyone wants to make a point people die. Even Wyatt Earp knew to have people check their guns when they came to town.
Nobody makes evil people do evil things. That is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that the American experience with guns is unlike that of any other country. The things we make easier to happen tend to happen more often. Guns don’t kill people. People with guns kill people. And Wyatt Earp is long since gone. No one checks their guns anymore.