This is the world you wanted.
Yes, you, Mr. or Ms. ardent and inflexible defender of unbridled gun rights.
Sunday night, Nevada man Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd at a Las Vegas country music festival, killing 58 at the time of this writing, and injuring more than 500 before killing himself in his hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Casino. It's the deadliest mass shooting in American history — words I last wrote after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.
Details about the Las Vegas shooter will emerge in the days to come — his political leanings, whether he bought his guns legally or illegally, whether any gun-control policy or new regulation could have altered the outcome — and none of that matters.
Because this is the story we’ve lived, again and again, less shocking every time: A man. A powerful weapon. Dozens of dead bodies.
That’s the plot. The details are irrelevant.
The majority of Americans want smarter gun control. The majority of Americans don’t want to be killed at the movies, or at a concert, or during first-grade story hour, but none of that matters, because the folks driving this train have decided that this is the way we live — that to be free means to accept the deaths, every few years, of dozens of Americans.
Even after the shooting at a Washington D.C. ball field, the U.S. Congress is moving forward on a measure that will make silencers more easily available, and make it more difficult for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms from considering some types of ammunition armor-piercing. Under consideration in Lansing is a bill that would eliminate training currently required to obtain a concealed-carry permit, and another that would allow gun owners to carry weapons in places like schools and churches that have declared themselves gun-free zones.
Our Second-Amendment rights could be preserved, while Americans are kept safe. We’ve said this again and again. Smart policy could make it harder for unstable killers to acquire and use firearms. Loopholes in existing laws could logically be closed, without infringing on Americans' right to own guns. The ATF could be empowered to do its job; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could be allowed to study this deadly epidemic.
We’ve asked for it over and over.
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This fight is over. It was over after 26 first-graders and school workers were murdered in Newtown, Conn. It's over now. Our lawmakers will continue to work to loosen, not tighten, gun laws. Each piece of information about Paddock will be presented as exculpatory evidence, showing how this policy or that law couldn't have made a difference, that nothing could have stopped him. We'll watch, transfixed, as we learn more about the victims, as we see images of their grieving families, the devastation left by this attack.
And we will do nothing.
There's not much more to say. The Las Vegas shooting is the deadliest mass shooting in America. Anyone care to guess how long that designation will stand?
So to our political opponents, congratulations — this is the world you wanted.
We just have to live in it.
If we can.
Nancy Kaffer is a columnist for The Detroit Free Press, where this piece first appeared.