Editor’s note: The author’s sister, Cynthia Graham Hurd, was one of nine people killed in the Charleston church shootings in 2015.
Deranged man buys a cache of assault rifles. It’s easy, thanks to weak gun laws and the all-powerful NRA.
One day, this guy decides to shoot up a bunch of innocent people just because he can. Innocent men, women, children. Everyone is game. In schools, churches, temples, movie theaters. There are no safe havens.
The latest death toll: 59. More than 500 injured. Las Vegas is on top now.
But the score can go higher. It will. It always does.
Each time, I hope these deaths – my sister’s death – helps lead to some kind of change. Here’s what happens instead:
The cable news networks have the game down. Their crews rush to the scene of the tragedy to grab videos of people running, crying, praying.
Social media explodes. #prayforCharleston, #prayforSandyHook, #prayforOrlando, #prayforLasVegas.
We identify the shooter – often white, loner, pathetic. We ask about his motive. We debate if we can call him a terrorist.
The president addresses the nation. He offers thoughts and prayers for the families and the victims and announces plans to visit the stricken community.
Democratic lawmakers cry out for tougher gun laws.
Republicans respond that now is not the time to politicize grief.
The NRA says nothing, hoping to dodge yet another bullet. This strategy has proven bullet-proof so far.
We learn about the victims, whose smiling photos appear on TV, newspapers, magazines, online.
We offer thoughts and prayers.
We say we’re done with thoughts and prayers.
The dead are buried.
News crews pack up and leave.
We never talk about meaningful gun laws.
Days go by. Then weeks. Maybe a few months if we’re lucky.
We forget. We move on. We grow numb.
Sooner or later, it happens again.
Begin at top.
Graham is a former Charlotte City Council member and N.C. state senator who has lived in Charlotte for more than 30 years.