The attack on members of Congress at baseball practice in Alexandria this morning is, by one count, the 195th mass shooting of the year. Thankfully, this time it appears that nobody was killed. The same can’t be said, alas, for the gun battle in a Fresno home on June 6, or the workplace eruption in Orlando on June 5, or the shooting in St. Louis on June 2.
Mass-casualty gun violence, like all forms of violence, has declined from its terrible peaks of the early 1990s. Yet it remains prevalent in the United States on a scale that staggers the rest of the civilized world. Earlier this month, we grieved the terrible car and knife terrorist attack on London Bridge. In the United Kingdom, jihadis employ knives precisely because they cannot readily lay hands on guns. The consequence is that committed ideological murderers, operating in teams, inflict fewer fatalities on the rare occasions they strike than do American casual killers every few days.
In only one of all the completed and attempted Islamic terrorist atrocities in the U.K. since 9/11 did the killers even carry a single gun: a 90-year-old Dutch revolver so battered that they never tried to use it.
Yet despite the predictable recurrence of these crimes, Americans have developed a strong taboo against ever discussing or even thinking about them. When the killer strikes, it is “too soon.” The next day, it is “too late”; we have all moved onto the next topic. Then comes the next massacre, and it is “too soon” all over again.