There has been another mass shooting in America.
The 24-year-old gunman–whose name is withheld to prevent providing publicity–is reported to have opened fire, killing three (including himself) and wounding 11, because he lost the Madden NFL 19 gaming tournament at Chicago Pizza at Jacksonville Landing.
Taylor Poindexter, 26, said:
“We did see him, two hands on the gun, walking back, just popping rounds. I was scared for my life and my boyfriend’s.”
Derek Jones, 30, a gamer from Santa Fe, New Mexico, was on a patio outside the tournament when he heard gunshots, and jumped over a fence.
“You know, I’m glad I lost today, because if I’d won, I would have been in that game bar right then playing a game and not paying attention. And he could have come and I’d probably be dead right now. No one deserves to die over playing a video game, you know? We’re just out here trying to win some money for our families.”
Jones stated he was familiar with the shooter by his online tags “Bread” or “Sliced Bread.”
During a press conference Sunday, Sheriff Mike Williams reported the existence of a social media video featuring “popping” sounds and raucous shouting.
Fla. Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson tweeted:
“Word of another tragic mass shooting in our state brings shock and outrage. Right now, law enforcement are [sic] doing their jobs under horrific circumstances and it’s important that people in the Jacksonville area heed their warnings.”
“All federal resources will be available to assist victims and their families, and to help law enforcement do their jobs.”
That is exactly the sentiment Marquis Williams, another gamer, expressed.
In a direct address to lawmakers, he said:
“Politicians, wake up because the people you’re supposed to representing are dying. Quit sitting on your butts. Quit collecting checks and do something.”
This is the second shooting incident Jacksonville experienced this weekend.
The first occurred Friday night at the Raines and Lee football game, leaving one dead and two injured.
So what are lawmakers doing?
Well, of course, “thoughts and prayers,” such as what Republican Rep. John Rutherford, representing Jacksonville and a former sheriff of Florida’s Duval County, tweeted:
“We pray for the victims and all the emergency personnel responding to this tragedy.”
Less than one week after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting in Parkland, Fla. on Valentine’s Day, Florida lawmakers rejected a motion to consider a bill that would ban assault rifles, opting instead to pass a resolution deeming pornography a public health emergency.
The right blames it on mental health (unless the shooter has dark skin); congressional Republicans offer “thoughts and prayers” in lieu of legislation; coverage about it dominates the news cycle for a few days before returning to other things.
Unless we effectively cut off the revenue pouring out of the gun lobby into Washington, we should expect gun violence to become a regular staple of American culture.
How much are lawmakers receiving from the gun lobby?
According to OpenSecrets.org, in 2016, the National Rifle Association (NRA) handed more than $50 million to key Republican candidates, including President Donald Trump.
It’s a gamble the NRA is willing to take, and it’s paying off.
It showered $50.2 million, 96 percent of total outside spending, on Trump and six Republican Senate candidates, and lost only the race for former Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid’s Nevada Senate seat, on which it invested roughly $2.5 million.
The most it ever spent in a down-ballot race was $6.2 million to help get incumbent Republican Sen. Richard Burr (NC) re-elected.
The prize for the most generous bribe, though, goes to Donald Trump, with a whopping $30.3 million.
Remember, the Supreme Court decided in the 2010 Citizens United case that money equals speech.
The gun lobby is taking full advantage of this, directing its sordid largess toward advertising appealing to the demographic that propelled Trump to the White House.
October 2016, the NRA sponsored roughly one out of every 20 television ads in Pennsylvania.
In North Carolina, it was one in nine; in Ohio, one in eight.
And every one implied the lies that Hillary Clinton and Democrats were dead-set on rounding up lawful owners’ guns, leaving them defenseless against would-be predators.
The NRA usually ranks highly among outside spending groups. 2016 was a particularly unique year, however, because of the at least $30.3 million it laid down to help elect Trump, more than any other outside group, including the leading Trump super PAC, which spent a paltry $20.3 million.
Other GOP lawmakers on the NRA dole: Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Roy Blunt (MO), Todd Young (Ind.), and Rob Portman (Ohio).
Those successful races cost the NRA between $2 million and $3.2 million.
The three last election cycles, the NRA invested $1 million dollars or more in 14 congressional races, and won 11 of them.
All were successful.
2016’s election cycle destroyed that record with more than $52 million.
The power lies, then, with us.
“The civil rights movement was started by teenagers. And here we are. Martin Luther King walked down these same streets as we are right now. It’s crazy that we’re doing the same thing that they did. We saw how that turned out. We’re hoping we get the same results.”
No one’s buying the “thoughts and prayers” ruse anymore.
As Fanny Lou Hamer said:
“You can pray until you faint, but unless you get up and try to do something, God is not going to put it in your lap.”
So, on November 6, get out there and vote in mid-term elections.
Vote for a candidate that offers more than “thoughts and prayers,” but instead presents reasonable legislation to curb the nation’s gun violence.
Flat-out refusal to accept money from the gun lobby is crucial as well.
Image credit: CBS News