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Karen O'Keefe of "On Second Glance"

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Karen O’Keefe has been a freelance writer in Atlanta, GA and Montgomery County, MD, since 1984. Prior to that time, she worked for a committee in the U.S. House, a public relations firm and as a Congressional press secretary. Since 2003, O’Keefe has been a regular news reporter and columnist... Read more

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Massacre Coverage: Same Show, Different Day

“Our thoughts and prayers are with…” — fill in the blank.

Watching the coverage today of a gunman or gunmen shooting innocents at the Navy Yard, I am struck by sameness, by the familiarity of the coverage.

On CNN and MSNBC, you have your Wolf Blitzer, your Pete Williams, with supplemental commentary from a recognizable array of consultants who are retired from the upper echelons of the FBI and major metropolitan police departments – chiefly Los Angeles, New York, and lately, Boston.

Elsewhere in the city, the medical chiefs at area hospitals – like talking heads in white coats with indecipherable names  embroidered on the breast — delineate the number and sex of patients they have received, and assure the public that they at the ready for more.

Later today, we will hear of the heroism of hospital trauma center staff who reported to the hospitals for duty in record time, and of others who stayed on for double shifts.

The mayor is on hand, accompanied by the chiefs of more than one police agency, giving brief snapshots of what is known — and sketching in broader strokes, what is unknown.

The president of the United States, his face set in a familiar grim expression, appears at a previously scheduled news conference, and once again, prefaces his remarks on – this time on Syria and the economy — with terse comments on the Navy Yard tragedy and an appeal for prayers and support for the victims of the tragedy.

Across the country, millions of people – like me – are glued to television screens, watching events unfold.

I am not alone in the sense of déjà vu that I feel.

The television scenes are the same. There are helicopters.  There are streets where traffic is at a standstill, punctuated by the flashing lights of patrol cars and emergency vehicles.

There are the same interviews with dazed witnesses who describe the familiar “pop, pop, pop” sounds and the confusion they felt before understanding that the sounds were not construction noises, but gunshots.

There are shots of police and officials standing in small groups, talking on radios, talking to each other.

Repeatedly, one hears the phrases, “heightened security” and “acts of heroism.”

We have all seen it before.

I still remember the Boston marathon, the school in Newtown Connecticut – and a bit further back — the Colorado movie theater and a Wisconsin Sikh temple last summer. Before that, the individual massacres are hazier in my mind – as much because they are so numerous, as the limits of my memory.

An MSNBC anchor just announced that there has been one mass shooting a month in the United States since 2009.

When will the American people demand action to break the back of this pestilence that has the nation in its death grip?

Most of the weapons used in these events are obtained legally.  At least half of these massacres are school or workplace-involved.

We know what to do.

We have to inform our representatives in Congress that they have no political future if they do not take measures to end this bloodbath — and we must follow through on Election Day.

Has anyone not felt shamed by the brokenness of the parents of Newtown who saw their tragedy shrugged off by the public officials they relied on for action?

What a huge dent could be made in the stats if Congress bans assault weapons, or automatic weapons! Imagine the lives that would be saved if these killers had to just pull the trigger one time for every bullet they use.

I am tired of massacre coverage on television.

It seems like in places where there are frequent traffic fatalities, eventually, speed limits are lowered and traffic lights are installed.

Twelve human beings like you and me died so far today. How many more – of us — must die or be maimed before we stop preventable mass killings?


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Karen O'Keefe

About Karen O'Keefe

Karen O’Keefe has been a freelance writer in Atlanta, GA and Montgomery County, MD, since 1984. Prior to that time, she worked for a committee in the U.S. House, a public relations firm and as a Congressional press secretary. Since 2003, O’Keefe has been a regular news reporter and columnist for The Town Courier, an independent biweekly newspaper based in Gaithersburg. Her blog, “On Second Glance,” explores everyday life and current events with insight, grace and humor.


One Response to “Massacre Coverage: Same Show, Different Day”

  1. Avatar
    On September 18, 2013 at 6:11 am responded with... #

    There are irresponsible people, everywhere, in control of trains planes, ships, automobiles, alcoholic beverages, matches, explosives and on and on… ANY legislation, to punish & take away the rights of law abiding citizens, is an attempt to control the actions of law breakers, is wrong! We are guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms, to deter TYRANTS!!! not to hunt squirrels, rabbits & ground hogs… When the tyrants come, they will have full automatics! What, ave we forgotten Nazi Germany, Stalin’s Russia, the carnage imposed on the unarmed masses by countless tyrants, throughout history? The mere fact that every state has a, “DEATH ROW,” full of killers, is one fault. There should only be one death row cell, per state, & it should hold one occupant for no more than three hours. Oh, that’s right, then the lawyers would lose money!!!
    With the current leadership in our country, trampling on the constitution that so many have died for, spilling the blood of our youth in foreign, hostile lands, for little or nothing, we should all have VULCAN MINI GUNS!!

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