On this Day in 1970 (Or, When We Gave a Damn About Mass Shootings)

(Also posted on Substack)

53 years ago today, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young recorded “Ohio,” Neil Young’s response to the Kent State killings 18 days prior. It seems almost quaint, the idea that a mass shooting would spark this kind of visceral reaction.

We’re told, often, that everyday citizens need AR-15s and the like for self defense and that they’re especially needed in case the government starts doing things we don’t like. We’re told this, often, by the same people who uncritically support every single action the military industrial complex takes at home or abroad. We’re told this, often, by the kind of people who probably thought what happened at Kent State “should have been done long ago.”

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago
What if you knew her and
Found her dead on the ground?
How can you run when you know?

I was born ten years after Kent State and graduated high school the year before Columbine. The assault weapons ban passed when I was in eighth grade and expired when I was in my 20s.

I asked Canva Magic Write (basically, a marketing AI) to tell me if mass shootings increased since the ban expired. Here’s the pathetic response:

So I Googled it. Here’s a pretty clear answer from, appropriately, the Ohio Capital Journal. Decide for yourself.

I’m not saying anything close to “let’s repeal the Second Amendment.” But we can’t keep running. 53 years ago, the “soldiers cutting us down” were 28 members of the Ohio National Guard who shot 67 rounds into a crowd of unarmed students in 13 seconds. So too, the massacre’s apologists. Today, the people cutting us down are deranged lunatics with easy access to the weapons of war. So too, lobbyists; so too politicians. So too anyone who bemoans (the very real) mental health crisis in this country and then shoots down any attempts at comprehensive healthcare reform, slashes budgets to earn gold star ratings from think thanks, claims falsely that creating a continuum of real care is more costly than letting these things trickle down in the streets, at workplaces, at schools.

What if you knew her and
Found her dead on the ground?
How can you run when you know?

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