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My thoughts on the Roseburg, Ore., shootings 

Here we are again, counting up the bodies and picking up the pieces, rending our hearts in despair and wondering what in the world we can ever do to put an end to this national nightmare, to these episodic spasms of madness and mayhem.

I feel like I’m getting too good at writing these pieces and sending them to your paper. It’s too easy. I wrote one up after Sandy Hook, and another after Isla Vista, the pages stained with tears. Now, death and destruction have come to rural Oregon, and the response is the same. The details of the recent heinous event remain, for the most part, the same: Some unhinged madman feels left out and left behind and decides to make some innocents pay. It’s the same as it ever was.

President Obama’s comments after this latest atrocity were heartfelt, sympathetic, steely, passionate. But most of all they were, as he noted, routine. We’ve all been here before. We play our roles and we shake our heads and we bury our dead and then we get on with our lives and then it happens again.

In the wake of these tragedies, one side of the political equation can always be counted on to call for more comprehensive gun safety legislation. The other side will scoff at the very idea and argue that no such proposals will ever do anything to stop criminals and madmen from perpetrating evil. What we really need, they say, are fewer gun laws and more guns (which is a bit like telling a drowning man he needs a glass of water, if you ask me).

It’s the unyielding pushback against any changes in our nation’s gun laws that I find disingenuous. It’s the bullheaded unwillingness to acknowledge that something different needs to happen that I find so appalling. I’m tired of shrugging my shoulders about mass murder. Aren’t you?

The president had it right the other night. We spend a trillion dollars annually to fight the threat of terrorism, a threat that kills perhaps 30 Americans each year, pre- and post-9/11. When the ebola virus came to our shores, our nation went into a full-blown panic and our health care system went into overdrive. Two people died.

Some 30,000 people die every year thanks to the foolishly open availability of firearms in this godforsaken place. And yet, while growing numbers of our friends and neighbors are left disconsolate and grieving, their families torn apart forever by firearms, their loved ones cut down by tools that were made for no other purpose than cutting things down, the rest of us sit by, powerless and paralyzed. Numb.

And we shrug. And we do nothing. And we move on.

And then it happens again

-- Jim Mallon - San Luis Obispo

-- Jim Mallon - San Luis Obispo

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