BY JONATHAN CAPEHART
The nation is all abuzz about leaks, metadata and surveillance. But former deputy White House press secretary Bill Burton tweeted a poignant, if depressing, question Sunday: “Anyone else worried that just 2 days ago, a monster with 1,300 more rounds of ammo killed 4 & it’s barely part of the conversation this am?”
Later on Sunday, the death toll from Friday’s shooting spree in Santa Monica, Calif., rose to five victims.
The suspect, identified by the Los Angeles Times as John Zawahri, allegedly started with his father and brother, who were later found dead inside a burning house. Then the suspect hijacked a car and directed the frightened driver to Santa Monica College.
During the ride, he allegedly fired on a city bus and nearby cars.
The gunman then took his rampage to the college library, where, after a confrontation with police, Zawahri was pronounced dead.
Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said: “Any time someone puts on a vest, of some sort, comes out with a bag full of loaded magazines, has an extra receiver, has a handgun and has a semiautomatic rifle, carjacks folks, goes to a college, kills more people and has to be neutralized at the hands of the police, I would say that that’s premeditated.”
Aspects of mass shootings are becoming eerily familiar. The cold calculation of a murderer in body armor. The assault rifles, extra weapons and ammunition to inflict the most damage.
But unlike the shootings in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., — or earlier mass shootings in Tucson, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood and Oak Creek, Wis. — there has been a near-national silence on the carnage in Santa Monica.
The Washington Post’s Eli Saslow reported this weekend on the struggles of Jackie and Mark Barden, whose 7-year-old son, Daniel, was one of the 20 children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Mark introduced President Obama in the Rose Garden after the Senate failed to pass gun-safety legislation, including an expansion of background checks for gun buyers supported by 90 percent of Americans.
This passage from Saslow’s article grabbed my attention:
“After the gunfire, the funerals, the NRA protests and the congressional debates, they were finally coming into the lonely quiet. They were coming to the truth of what Newtown would become. Would it be the transformative moment in American gun policy that, in those first days, so many had promised? Or another Columbine, Virginia Tech, Gabby Giffords, Aurora — one more proper noun added to an ever-growing list?”
Newtown had its “transformative moment in American gun policy.”
And even though it is “another proper noun added to an ever-growing list,” it won’t be forgotten. Sadly, the same cannot be said of Santa Monica, and that speaks volumes about how accustomed we have become to mass shootings.
Jonathan Capehart is a columnist for The Washington Post.