Brownsville, Brooklyn, is 2,540 miles away from Gilroy, Calif., as the crow flies. The two places this weekend were linked by a grim coincidence: family friendly festivals torn apart by the all-too-American sound of gunfire.
At a time when the nation is divided, the sickness of gun violence — including mass, indiscriminate gun violence — unites us.
Saturday night in Brooklyn at the annual Old Timers Festival, 12 people were shot, one killed. Two gunmen, two guns, widespread hysteria. On Sunday in Gilroy at the annual Garlic Festival, a 19-year-old with an assault rifle he had bought legally in another state just weeks before killed three people, including a 6-year-old and a 12-year-old, and injured a dozen more.
Nor were these the only mass shootings of the weekend. There were eight of them. Eight people killed. Forty six injured. And those numbers understate the trauma. These events scar not just victims, but family members, witnesses and communities, forever.
Does arming untrained good guys fix anything? Hundreds of NYPD officers in Brooklyn to police the Old Timers Festival couldn't stop the mayhem. In Gilroy, police took down the 19-year-old attacker within 60 seconds after he opened fire. Still, a troubled young man with a high-powered weapon had the means to take many lives.
So far, our answers to this epidemic — security guards, active shooter trainings for kindergarteners — are nothing but Band-Aids on bullet wounds.
Stop pretending otherwise. When troubled individuals can easily acquire the means to kill and maim en masse, America's gun laws need serious surgery.