So here we are again, working our way through the steps, the predictable progression of reactions after every mass shooting within the borders of the United States of America, shootings that of late seem to getting more massive in scope, at least when it comes to the number of innocents killed.

    So here we are again, working our way through the steps, the predictable progression of reactions after every mass shooting within the borders of the United States of America, shootings that of late seem to getting more massive in scope, at least when it comes to the number of innocents killed.

    There's the shock and horror in the immediate aftermath, but those emotions tend to linger a bit as the number of dead and injured climbs and people begin to realize the level of carnage that was unleashed. Then we enter the step where we hear news correspondents and writers use phrases like "at the worst of times, people are often at their best" as stories are told of heroes not fleeing for their lives but trying to save as many people as they can. During this step, you’ll observe countless media outlets, whether it involves victims, people who escaped, or people who acted heroically, trying to localize the tragedy as much as possible. The Grand Forks Herald’s Oct. 3 lead story headline was typically of these efforts, announcing “Horror hits home” above a story about a former UND baseball player being among those shot and injured in Las Vegas Sunday night.

    We’re currently in the midst of the phase where we try to figure out what motivated the shooter to unleash such "senseless" violence, with the latest shooter being Stephen Paddock, 64, a retired accountant who apparently made a lot of money in real estate as well.

    Then, at any moment now, we’ll embark on the phase marked by the inevitable debate over the omnipresent prevalence of guns in this country playing, or not playing, a role in all of these shootings.

    To get things started, let's refer to some of the social media reaction so far, where those who think guns are a very small part of the problem, if they're part of the problem at all, say that evil and/or crazy people will get the firearms they need to kill and maim even if some of those firearms are illegal, and they'll do bad things with those guns, no matter what the law says.

    What is not being said in making that point but one could argue is being implied is that, once again, when it comes to the possibility of taking reasonable measures to reduce the number of guns capable of mass violence in American society, all we can do is continue to throw up our arms in exasperated frustration because there's nothing meaningful that can possibly be done. We should just conclude that bad people or crazy people, if they can't get a gun, will just grab the nearest butcher knife or hammer and harm people that way. Because guns, knives and hammers don’t kill people, people kill people.

    So, once again, we're not going to even try to do anything? Nothing? The status quo is not only acceptable, it’s our only option? We’re the only developed nation on the planet that deals with this problem over and over, but that’s just a fact of American life we’re going to have to keep rolling with until…forever? It’s the price of freedom?

    Actually, the American people aren't getting enough credit over the last couple of paragraphs. Most Americans wouldn't object to gun control measures that everyone likes to categorize as "sensible." But so many of our paralyzed elected leaders get so much money from the gun lobby and special interests related to the gun lobby that they simply will not act. Instead, just you wait, they'll talk about things we need to do to properly recognize and identify mentally ill people who aren't getting near the support or resources they need. Like, if we only had better mechanisms in place to reach out to Paddock before he decided to bring 10 suitcases full of guns, some fully automatic military-style machine guns, into his Las Vegas hotel room over the weekend, this latest bloodbath could have been avoided.

    We are a nation of guns, and the people who have the power to make us a nation of just a microscopically, ever-so-slightly less amount of guns are afraid to do even that.