At last, spring has sprung

Spring officially may have arrived on March 21, but the past month has been anything but spring-like.

For those of us who live along the Massachusetts coastline, this is nothing new of course. The prevailing, on-shore sea breezes at this time of year transport air from the ocean that still is in the low 40s. So on days when the temperature may be in the 60s in central Mass., we’re at least 10 degrees cooler, with a wind-chill factor that makes it feel 10 degrees cooler than that.

In other words, the 60s elsewhere feel like the 40s for us.

But this week finally brought a measure of spring, not only because of the warmth, but because of the daffodils, forsythia, and flowering trees that signal the end of winter and the promise of nicer days ahead.

With the coronavirus pandemic hopefully coming to an end, the arrival of spring is coming none too soon.

Mass shootings are our new epidemic

Mass shootings with high-powered weapons are nothing new in America. The recent tragedies in Atlanta and Indianapolis are just two more of a long string of the slaughter of innocent Americans who simply were going about their everyday lives at work, in school, or at a shopping mall.

But as horrific as these well-publicized incidents have been, they are just the proverbial tip of the iceberg when it comes to mass shootings all across the country, which have been occurring at ever-increasing rates.

In the past 30 days since the Atlanta massacre, there have been 45 mass shootings — defined as incidents where four or more people have been shot — across the U.S. 

The vast majority of these shootings never make it into the national headlines to the extent of the Atlanta and Indianapolis incidents, but they are real. For example, on April 8 in Bryan, Texas, a gunman (who apparently was a disgruntled former employee) shot six persons at a cabinet-making company. One was killed and five were wounded, four critically.

We could go on and on, but the bottom line is that America is the only place in the world where mass shootings are a daily part of life. And the reason is very simple: America is the only country where there are more guns than people and a large percentage of those weapons are high-capacity, semi-automatic firearms.

Ardent supporters of gun ownership make the time-worn argument that if there are restrictions on gun ownership, then only criminals will have guns.

But the reality is that the perpetrators of mass shooting incidents are not criminals — they’re typically the guy next door who has some sort of mental health or anger issue, but who has been able to buy a high-capacity weapon on a whim and go on a shooting rampage a short time later.

The shooter in Atlanta, for example, had purchased his gun just a day before he went on his murderous spree.

Other nations — principally narco-terrorist states such as Mexico and Honduras — may have higher homicide rates, but mass shootings by, and of, ordinary civilians are a uniquely American phenomenon. 

Countries with broad gun-ownership, such as Australia and New Zealand, have instituted common-sense laws that have eliminated mass-shootings. Australia did so after a school massacre in 1996 — and there have been no similar incidents since then.

What will it take for America to reach the tipping point that will persuade Congress to implement common-sense gun legislation? 

We’re obviously not there yet. Our guess is it will occur only when Americans will be fearful of gathering such that it will affect travel and business. After all, who wants to travel to a state where people are allowed to openly carry high-capacity weaponry?

But in the meantime, America tragically will remain among the most randomly-violent places on the planet.

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