Mass shooting – an American pastime

Mass shootings, in a The dark, miserable way, is as American as apple pie. This was made painfully clear on July 4 in Highland Park, Illinois when a gunman opened fire on hundreds of people who had lined the streets for the annual Independence Day Parade in a Chicago suburb. When the shooting stopped, six people were killed and nearly 30 wounded, one of whom later died in hospital.

The Fourth of July is the day in 1776 when the Thirteen Colonies issued the Declaration of Independence. “We take these truths to be self-evident,” declared its preamble, “that all men are created equal, and that their Creator has endowed them with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The Highland Park murder victims had neither life nor freedom, their happiness robbed as the shooter fired at least 70 rounds into the crowd, using his legally purchased semi-automatic rifle just as the original designers of the AR-15 intended, to kill humans. The Second Amendment rights of an accused murderer, recently expanded by the hard right-wing majority in the US Supreme Court, have irrevocably trumped those of his victims.

Six months before the proclamation of 1776, the Colonial Handbook tore apart like wildfire. The “common sense” of a working-class English immigrant named Thomas Paine argued in favor of the overthrow of British rule in the Thirteen Colonies. Hundreds of thousands of copies were circulated to 2.5 million people there, creating a fountain of support for the revolution. Payne cited the battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775 as the moment that ended the possibility of reconciliation with England. On that day, American farmers who threw their plows to bear arms responded militarily to British soldiers for the first time, shooting what Ralph Waldo Emerson called “the shot heard around the world.”

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