Beyond the scores of people who have been killed and the hundreds who have been wounded in Las Vegas today, thousands of other people, though not visibly or directly injured, have had their lives changed forever. Children and parents. Husbands and wives. Brothers and sisters. Something is instantly and permanently gone from their lives. Co-workers and friends. Members of churches or sports leagues or the PTA. Customers and clients and students. Neighbors and casual acquaintances at the coffee shop or the bar. The rest of their days will be different and shadowed because of this massacre. “Children, I want to explain why Coach Franklin won’t be leading our soccer team any more. Something bad happened, and ...”
The dead and the wounded, and their family and friends, of course deserve most support and sympathy. But their fellow countrymen should reflect on two dark truths the episode underscores. I was going to end that sentence with “reveals,” but that’s not right: We know these things already.
The first is that America will not stop these shootings. They will go on. We all know that, which makes the immediate wave of grief even worse.
Five years ago, after what was the horrific mass shooting of that moment, I wrote an item called “The Certainty of More Shootings.” It was about the massacre in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and after acknowledging the victims it said:
The additional sad, horrifying, and appalling point is the shared American knowledge that, beyond any doubt, this will happen again, and that it will happen in America many, many times before it occurs anywhere else.
That remains true now. I expect it to be true five years from now. I am an optimist about most aspects of America’s resilience and adaptability, but not about reversing America’s implicit decision to let these killings go on.