Set fire to a building, wait for the police and the fire department to show up, fire a few rounds at them, run away.
This used to be a tactic used in inner cities during the infamous Long Hot Summer of 1967. A hundred and sixty urban riots during a four month period. A lot of anger and rage against government — national, state, municipal, it didn’t matter. Tension about the war in Southeast Asia, tension about racism, tension about drug laws, tension exacerbated by the summer heat. Start a fire, wait for the response, fire a few rounds, run away. The motives in 1967 were personal and political. Not like this — not like what happened this morning in Webster, NY.
This morning, in a middle-class, lakeside suburb near Rochester, firefighters — and let me stress this: volunteer firefighters — arrived at the scene of a home fire and were shot at. Four firefighters were shot; two are dead. The gunman is also dead. The house that was on fire — it burned to the ground since the firefighters couldn’t extinguish the blaze while being shot at. Three other houses were also destroyed when the fire spread; four others were damaged by fire.
I don’t know if the shooter started the fire. I don’t know if this was planned or spontaneous. I don’t know how the shooter was armed or what sort of ammunition he used. But I know this: this shit has to stop.
Last week, it was children and their teachers. This morning, volunteer firefighters. Regular people who give up some of their free time to train and practice putting out fires. Regular men and women who, when called, willingly stop whatever they’re doing and respond to help the people of their communities. They don’t care if the house belongs to a friend or a stranger, they don’t care if the house is owned by Democrats or Republicans, they don’t care if the inhabitants are black or white, they don’t care if it’s the home of illegal immigrants. They get the call and they deliberately put themselves in real danger, because it needs to be done.
And some asshole with a gun shoots them.
My guess is Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association will suggest that all firefighters should be armed so they can return fire.
Let me be clear about this. It’s NOT the individual firearms that’s the problem. The problem is ALL the firearms. It’s the easy availability of firearms and the availability of high capacity magazines. Making firearms more difficult to obtain IS NOT going to stop mass shootings; our culture is much too fucked up at this point for that to stop. But we can, over time, at least try to reduce the body count.
This shit has to stop.
We must mobilize the passive and the disaffected. Those gun nuts are only a minority, I’m certain. How do we get the indifferent majority to take action? In all things obvious and important? Why can’t we get them to vote? Why? If we figure that out, we can change the world.