The latest mass shooting, this time perilously close to the U.S. Capitol, has produced the same thud of silence in Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters he still lacks the votes to pass any significant gun control legislation. And if the Democratically controlled Senate is stymied, you can imagine the challenge in the GOP-controlled House.
Perhaps it is one of those telling yet cruel coincidences that two Colorado state senators who voted for legislation requiring universal background checks were just recalled in special elections. And this is in a state that has experienced two recent mass shootings. The alleged Navy Yard shooter had been arrested in Seattle for firing three pistol shots into the tires of a man who angered him. The Navy contractor in DC said he never would have hired the shooter if he had known. But the message in the Colorado election left a deeper impression.
The shooting spree Monday at the Navy Yard, which is at the edge of Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, sent shudders down a lot of backs across America, including those of men and women in the military. Despite their security, military bases have become ready-made targets for shooters with nobody in particular to kill, but with the ability to walk into a gun shop and legally buy a shotgun.
There was huge irony in the White House Rose Garden as President Obama, trying to put the Syrian chemical weapons episode in the rearview mirror, held a press conference to refocus national attention — and the attention of House GOP leaders — on the still-flagging U.S. economy. While he spoke, Congress and other government offices were in lock-down while authorities searched for potential additional shooting suspects in the neighborhood.
Even Obama seemed resigned to congressional inaction in the face of the latest shooting spree, which comes almost as close to touching Congress itself as the shooting of then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords while meeting with her Arizona constituents at a supermarket near Tucson.
There could be little joy among mental health professionals. The father of the shooter said his son suffered from "anger management problems" resulting from post-traumatic stress disorder. According to his father, the shooter was "an active participant in rescue attempts of September 11, 2001." Despite his aggressive streak, the shooter reportedly practiced meditation, had learned Thai and was pursuing an online degree in aeronautical engineering. However, he told Rhode Island policemen a few days ago he was hearing voices.
The nation's capital will apparently return to normal today. The Washington Nationals, which canceled a game yesterday, will make it up today in a doubleheader. Political leaders, who now can move freely around the Capitol, will resume plotting either how to force or how to avoid a government shutdown over defunding Obamacare. And there still is plenty of time to express outrage at Russian President Vladimir Putin's op-ed published in The New York Times scolding Americans for thinking they are exceptional.
Life will continue, except for the 12 victims at Monday's Navy Yard shooting and the dead shooter. At least until the next mass shooting, which will evoke yet another round of resignation. Based on a recent history, we won't have to wait very long.