This is the new normal. A gunman enters a crowded place, whether a school, a movie theater, or a place of work. In a few short minutes a tragedy ensues. Multiple dead, many wounded. Lives forever altered. The gunman dead. We stop for a few moments, watch with horrid fascination as the news covers the story, listen to the pundits, and then we move on, close the chapter, and get back to our own lives and concerns.
I don’t know what is worse – that we’ve gotten used to it, that it has become almost common place, just another shooting, or that we’ve given up challenging the gun lobby about the crazy gun laws (or lack thereof) in this country. Is it worse to be disinterested or hopeless? Do we now accept the fact that we live in a country where these shootings happen with some regularity? It seems that way. There has been almost no response from the gun control side of the debate. I suppose they figure that if nothing changed after children were gunned down in an elementary school in Connecticut, nothing will change when adults are gunned down in a military facility in Washington DC. The new normal. I imagine the NRA leadership is toasting itself over the last two days: ‘Look how far we’ve come! No one even blinks an eye! No one even challenges us!’
I wonder if they believe the DC gunman should have been able to purchase his weapons with impunity. That a man with a troubled history and two gun related brushes with the law should be able to just walk into a gun shop, pass a background check, and walk out with shotgun is a bit mystifying, to say the least.
Judaism is quite clear on this issue. The rights of the community trump the rights of the individual every time. If the individual right to own a weapon is impinging on the communal right to be safe, the individual’s rights are curtailed. That is the old normal. Maybe it is time to figure out a way to get back to it.