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You need not read this. Odds are you've read something like it before, the pained words hastily scribbled by columnists or editors who trot out the clichés that inevitably follow one of these mass shootings that are now as much a feature of American life as baseball or 4th of July fireworks.

national mourning

As I write these words, some 58 people are dead in Las Vegas, a death toll that will surely be higher by the time these words see print. This particular horror happened on the 275th day of a year in which there had already been 273 mass shootings with four or more victims. In this context, it's obvious that happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas, the place where odds are calculated on the likelihood of nearly any eventuality. We already knew, however, that the odds of getting shot in this country were higher than anywhere else in the world that isn't an active war zone.

The right to keep and bear arms was added to the U.S. Constitution at a time when the founders feared slave rebellions and Indian uprisings. It was adopted in 1791 when it took longer to reload a single-shot black powder musket than it now takes to unload a couple of magazines of high-caliber rounds into a crowd of grade school students, movie goers, or country music fans.

Our odds of getting shot, or of our kids getting shot make venturing out into world a very dicey bet. But what are the odds of finding a "well-regulated militia" in this country? Or a slave revolt?

Our odds of getting shot, or of our kids getting shot make venturing out into world a very dicey bet. But what are the odds of finding a "well-regulated militia" in this country? Or a slave revolt?

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What is left to be said about the mundane and murderous madness we live with? Thanks to the NRA and our craven and corrupted politicians, it's damn near a sure thing we won't do anything to increase the odds that our kids will return home safely from school, or that we can be secure in the knowledge that going out for a night of live music is a risk worth taking.

Doug LaMalfa, our representative for this congressional district, has received some $6000 from the National Rifle Association to ensure he won't support any restrictions on gun ownership no matter how sensible. The NRA got LaMalfa cheap. Darrell Issa, a congressman from farther south has received almost $30,000. Devin Nunez got almost $24,000 from the NRA. Tom McClintock, representing the district just to the east of Sacramento, got almost $14,000. Few Republican congressmen were left out when the money was being dispensed, which is but one of the reasons why you cannot find bipartisan support for any kind of reasonable changes to our gun control laws. The NRA money comes in even thicker wads when it's being spent to buy U.S. senators. Just nine of the 100 members of the U.S. Senate divvied up $22 million from the NRA. They are: Mitch McConnell (R-KY): $1,262,189, Roy Blunt (R-MO): $1,433,952, Pat Roberts (R-KS): $1,584,153, Tom Cotton (R-AR): $1,968,714, David Perdue (R-GA): $1,997,512, Bill Cassidy (R-LA): $2,867,074, Joni Ernst (R-IA): $3,124,773, Cory Gardner (R-CO): $3,939,199, Thom Tillis (R-NC): $4,418,833

Guns kill some 30,000 Americans annually. Handguns alone killed more than 10,000 Americans last year. As far as American exceptionalism goes, that makes us pretty exceptional. We're Number One in gun deaths and gun violence. No other country so-called "civilized" nation even comes close.

And, since so many of our politicians work for the gun lobby and the NRA, it's pretty clear they aren't going to allow this increasingly dysfunctional country to clean up its bloody act. They rush forward with "thoughts and prayers" each time we observe one of these rituals of mass death, of course, but their words have begun to seem just a tad disingenuous. Perhaps it might save us all a bit of time (and a bit of hypocrisy) if we just set aside one day a month as Monthly Mourning Day, specifically devoted to sending our sincere thoughts and prayers to all those who had died in mass shootings over the course of the previous 30 days.

Because the odds are that we're going to see lots and lots more blood on our streets, on the walls of our schoolrooms, in the popcorn at our movie theaters, among the audiences at our music events and most anywhere else likely to draw a big crowd of Americans trying to go about their normal lives in this land where, if you want to live free, you also have to be brave enough to venture out, or to send your kids into what has become a free-fire zone from sea to shining sea.

jaime oneill

Jaime O'Neill