Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Flag Day Despoiled

I was going to write a piece about Flag Day with photos.

Now, the depressing news about the shooting at a baseball practice field of Republican members of the congressional baseball team leads to other thoughts.  Thankfully no one was killed other than the gunman.  Good riddance to him. And thankfully the brave Capitol Police were there to take him down.

But will this be a time that we pull together long after the incident?  Or will it just pull us further apart?

I’ve heard comments such as Representative Mo Brooks’  “It’s not easy to take when you see people around you being shot and you don’t have a weapon yourself.”  According to initial reports the deranged gunman had a military assault style weapon.  One can understand the helplessness and the impotence felt by Rep. Brooks.  It is an outrage that we cannot even enjoy our national pastime without feeling threatened this way.  And it is an outrage that political divisiveness should lead to any kind of violence.

But unless we all pull together the subsequent dialogue can go two divergent ways.  One could lead us down the path of greater authoritarianism and the call for arming more citizens (although a greater police presence is going to be necessary when many of our Representatives are in public venues).  The other path could call for the long-needed ban of military grade weapons.  Are we all supposed to be armed  with AR-15s on our baseball fields?  I’m no Pollyanna and know that such a ban would have little impact on what happens in the near future.  I’m thinking long term.  This is not about challenging the 2nd Amendment, and it is not about Republican vs. Democrat.  It’s about common sense banning military weapons, doing comprehensive background checks, expanding our treatment of mental illness, and developing better early warning signs of mentally disturbed people from social networks and prior arrests.

I worry about how this horrible incident will move the country in the future.  Will we come together, E pluribus unum, or be driven apart, politicizing this horror?  I look to the flag and wonder and hope.