Ho hum – another horrific mass murder just took place in America. Ho hum, another deranged person with a high-capacity, high-powered weapon has taken multiple innocent lives, be they men, women, little children in school, church members, shoppers, or anyone who happens to be in just about any normal place where people may gather.

I say “ho hum” not to belittle the tragedy of innocent lives being taken but because mass murders in America have become almost routine, as regular as the sun coming up in the morning.

Mass murders should no longer be a surprise but should be expected because too many people in our nation have accepted this abhorrent experience as a part of our “culture” where the protection of the right to possess weapons of mass destruction is more important than the protection of innocent lives.

We Americans should expect this onslaught of mass murders to continue because there are more guns than people in America, there is almost total unfettered access to any kind of weapon one would want to obtain, and there are enough unhinged people who wish to access those weapons and use them. 

The insanity of making random mass murders an unpleasant but acceptable part of society is unique to America. Other countries have had mass murders take place and have swiftly moved to deal effectively with the issue, but not in America. 

Composite illustration features the 21 victims — 19 children and two teachers — of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022

The shootings of young children at Sandy Hook, and the shootings of young children in Uvalde, where bodies of the young victims were so mangled by high-powered bullets that even the parents had difficulty identifying them — even these unimaginably horrible events have not brought about major change in the problem of the sane control of assault-type weapons.

The political will to make significant change in our gun policies has been neutralized by politicians who seem to be in the hip pocket of the NRA, and the NRA over the years has become radicalized with extreme fanaticism towards the regulation of any kind of ownership of all manner of guns. 

Tomorrow, or perhaps the day after, we should not be caught unaware if another mass murder episode takes place somewhere in America – sadly it has become as American as apple pie. 

President John F. Kennedy challenged America to put men on the moon and bring them back safely within nine years – and America rose to the challenge and successfully put Neil Armstrong on the moon! Martin Luther King Jr. took on centuries of racism and through his courage and non-violent example changed the nature of civil rights in America.

Years ago, when I was a young social worker, people would light up and smoke a cigarette in meeting rooms and there were ashtrays in every conference room because smoking was a cultural norm and seen everywhere as acceptable, even “cool” behavior. Back in 1966, during my first job as an engineer at Lockheed, I worked in a large room with hundreds of aerospace engineers and people would be smoking cigarettes, cigars, and pipes all throughout the day – smoking anywhere was as American as apple pie.

But the cultural norm around smoking in public spaces has changed immensely over the years – it is no longer acceptable to smoke in enclosed public spaces, and I was surprised at the tremendous extent of the cultural shift when I learned that smoking was restricted at Dodger Stadium and even at the beach!

These examples show that America has the potential to make positive change with the right kind of leadership. America needs leadership with the will and vision to make difficult social changes; otherwise, mass murders by high-powered weapons will continue unabated – and unfortunately and sadly, will remain a ho-hum, desensitized event.


Bill Watanabe writes from Silver Lake near Downtown Los Angeles and can be reached at Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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