Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

U.S. gun violence strategy is to do bare minimum

Write to the Point


Last updated 8/1/2019 at 1:15pm

One would think a small-town garlic festival would be the least-likely candidate for the site of unspeakable violence. But that illusion was shattered Sunday, July 28, when three people were killed by a gunman at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Northern California.

Two of those murdered were children. At least 12 more were injured.

The incident is yet another tally mark on the long list of mass shootings that have plagued the U.S. in recent years. It’s to the point where they don’t rattle the public anymore; news consumers sigh and say, “Not another one” and move on.

But the families of those shot in California will not move on so easily.

The U.S. has fallen into an interesting cycle with mass shootings. After it happens, there is a flurry of attention by the media and general public, with a focus on the shooter — their photo, upbringing and mental state thoroughly examined by television pundits and armchair psychiatrists.

Then the attention is put on the victims, with long-form news features splashed over glossy magazines contrasting their smiling photos with details of their grisly deaths.

The killings are called “senseless,” and the repeated question that all conversation circles back to is, “Why?”

But despite that being the question all can agree on, what no one can agree on is an answer.

Some blame poor mental healthcare and a culture that forbids young men from healthfully expressing emotions. Others take aim at lax gun laws and the fact that the U.S. has not acted like other countries, such as Australia, that took a hardline stance on weapons following their own similar tragedies.

The heavy police presence at the festival has been credited with stopping the massacre — officers eventually shot and killed the shooter, so some think increased law enforcement is the answer. But despite officers responding within one minute, three people still died.

This month, bulletproof backpacks hit the shelves of Spokane stores. What used to be known as “lockdown” safety drills in schools have been renamed “active shooter” drills. Police patrol events with an eye for firearms and we circulate literature detailing what to do in the case of a mass shooting online and on college campuses.

It seems to me that instead of addressing potential causes of the increase in public firearm violence, we’re treating the symptoms and desperately hoping it helps.

But hope is not a strategy. We call these incidents “senseless,” but the only thing that doesn’t make sense is our refusal to address their causes. Until we are brave enough to make fundamental alterations to the status quo in gun control, mental health and other fields, these bloodbaths will continue to happen.

Begging the question “Why?” over and over again without making meaningful, significant changes in any related field is useless. We must make uncomfortable changes, modifications to our culture and society and laws that are painful and awkward and unpopular and controversial. Or we must accept our new reality, in which the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting is just another day.

Shannen Talbot can be reached at


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