Shortly after noon on July 4th, I took the American flag off of our flagpole. It was not any ordinary American flag, but a special one that I fly one day a year.
I took it out of its special plastic container late Sunday night and hoisted it up the flagpole. Only on Independence Day does the flag which had flown over Mount Vernon on the day of our visit fly proudly at our home. That flag represents a touchstone of history, and also underscores my respect for not only George Washington but the Founding Fathers as a whole.
But when the news was reported of the mass shooting Monday morning in Highland Park, killing 6 and injuring about 30, I walked outside and took the flag down. There was simply no way that flag was going to fly at half-staff on July 4th.
Not for a nation that simply refuses to coherently address gun violence.
We are the only industrialized nation in the world that allows for the bloodshed and carnage to continue without taking firm and resolute actions. Or as one might say back home where I was raised, not willing to shuck the issue down to the cob.
A couple of weeks ago Congress was so gleeful about the meek and timid gun legislation that was passed. Yes, it was better than nothing at all, but still impotent when addressing the real needs when it comes to guns and violence in America.
At the time of the Senate passing the measure I was listening to some music as I mowed our lawn. A song called 40 Miles From Poplar Bluff was on my playlist and a line from that long ago tune says and daddy’s morning coffee came from ol’ left over grounds.
That is how I view the gun law. Weak, timid, and akin to leftover coffee grounds. It is so far from where the nation needs our legislative bodies to be when addressing gun violence.
No one should be surprised that on July 4th a mass shooting took place, that another white male is being sought (as of this writing the killer is yet to be apprehended), or that there will be more mass shootings this week. After all, this is only the start of the week.
I had already awoken to WGN radio news which reported at least 55 people had been shot, seven fatally, in the 4th of July holiday weekend violence in Chicago. Every weekend there are scores of reasons in that one city, alone, that scream out why true gun control measures need to be passed in this country.
And we know why there need to be federal laws so to stem gun violence like on the streets of the Windy City.
The guns that end up on Chicago’s streets often come from Indiana and Wisconsin. In 2019, of more than 11,000 guns confiscated by Illinois authorities, 460 were traced back to Wisconsin, which ranked third for states with the most gun traces outside of Illinois, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. (I wrote about this issue, and had my column published at Urban Milwaukee.)
Today we are reading and watching the news reports of yet another man committing a mass shooting. Almost every mass shooter in the United States is a man. And white men are the most responsible for such shootings.
As NPR has reported, researchers say that men, more than women, tend to externalize their problems and look for others to blame, which can translate into anger and violence. And when women do choose violence, guns are not typically their weapon of choice.
If men vastly outnumber women as mass shooters, those perpetrators are often a model for the next male shooters, who “see themselves in them,” Peterson said, a phenomenon that she noted is particularly true among young, white men. Violence Project data show that white men are disproportionately responsible for mass shootings more than any other group.
Too many white males in the nation, (some who would have us believe they are now a discriminated group because we demand they act reasonably in society) become agitated and even outraged when it is pointed out that they are the leading cause of mass shootings in our nation. Not only does our nation have too many guns that are easily accessible, but we also have some males who think their perceived grievances give them license to act out in any way they desire.
Why are there so many white men who when confronted with the rigors of life resort to violence? Why are so many of the group unable to cope with their emotions and find avenues for productive and healthy living? How did we raise in this nation such a group of misfits?
If you listen to some of the twaddle on Fox News you will know they fear masculinity is being drained from males. They actually talk about such absurd topics on prime time. Meanwhile, the streets of our country are seen to be overrun by what can be correctly termed toxic masculinity.
Today a young white male killed six and injured scores. Guns are to blame, for sure. So, too, is whatever is wrong with too many white men.