On July Fourth, where’s our freedom to go to a club or a parade and not hear shots fired?

·3 min read
One killed, four injured in late-night downtown Sacramento shooting outside club

On Independence Day, five people were shot in downtown Sacramento, and one of them died, in the second mass shooting here in a single season. Could anything be more American?

Nationally, this news will barely register. Because in suburban Chicago, more than two dozen were wounded, at least six of them fatally, at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park. “Fourth Fest” was canceled after a young man fired a “high-powered rifle” randomly some 25 times from a rooftop, according to Christopher Covelli, spokesman for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force.

What else are we willing to forgo along with the expectation that we can take the kids to a small-town parade without fear that a community celebration will turn into a massacre?

We are a country of such extreme views of what freedom looks like that a fetus must always be protected, from the earliest weeks of pregnancy. Yet children at school or church or a red white and blue parade somehow merit no attempt to keep them alive and safe.

New York’s right to impose common-sense curbs on guns is deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Even as the Texas attorney general announces that he hopes to criminalize gay sex, and a 10-year-old rape victim has to travel from Ohio to Indiana to end her nightmare pregnancy.

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At this point, we are so inured to the violence that many seem to see as the cost of freedom that Monday’s shooting here, outside the Mix nightclub at 16th and L streets just before 2 a.m., didn’t exactly shock Corey Everett, a delivery driver who was inside the club celebrating a friend’s birthday when he heard gunfire. “I wasn’t that scared,” he said, “because of a couple of months [ago.] It’s happened before.”

In April, less than a mile away, a gang shootout at 10th and K streets left 12 people wounded and six dead.

And it will happen again, too, since as Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said, “the proliferation of guns and lack of adequate societal and mental health supports in our country means more people are armed and ready to pull the trigger. We all know this.”

Not all. Which is why gun laws in California and other states are newly at risk, thanks to the radical new Supreme Court majority.

As usual, Second Amendment absolutists argue that since California’s existing gun laws didn’t prevent Monday’s shooting, they must not do any good. If that were true, then we could decriminalize homicide without any fear of the consequences.

No gun (or other) law will ever prevent all gun (or other) crimes. But fewer gun regulations do correlate with more gun deaths.

Which is why, as enjoyably kick-in-the-pants as that campaign ad that California Gov. Gavin Newsom is running on Fox channels in Florida this Fourth of July is, there’s no denying that this state, and every other, are still more limited than they should be in their ability to address America’s deadly gun fetish.

“It’s Independence Day,” Newsom says in the ad, “so let’s talk about what’s going on in America. Freedom, it’s under attack in your state. Republican leaders, they’re banning books, making it harder to vote, restricting speech in classrooms, even criminalizing women and doctors. I urge all of you living in Florida to join the fight, or join us in California, where we still believe in freedom — freedom of speech, freedom to choose, freedom from hate and the freedom to love.”

All that’s true. But this is, too: It’s infinitely harder for us in California or Illinois to have the simple freedom to attend a patriotic parade, or celebrate a friend’s birthday in a club, without half-expecting to hear shots fired, because the entire country isn’t demanding a more serious response from all levels of government.

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