It appears that there is less and less time between massacres and acts of domestic terrorism lately. Sunday, a man with ties to an anti-government organization opened fire at a Waffle House in Nashville, killing four people and wounding 2 before a heroic customer named James Shaw, Jr. wrestled the assault rifle out of his grasp. The killer, identified as Travis Reinking, fled and was captured by police on Monday.
This isn't Reinking's first brush with the law. In 2017, he was arrested trying to trespass on White House grounds. His weapons were confiscated by police but were later returned to him by his father. Reinking has identified himself as a member of the Sovereign Citizen Movement, an organization whose proponents believe that they do not have to follow any laws they don't want to follow. As one can imagine, this sort of organization attracts people living on the fringes of society, some of whom are racists and anti-Semites.
It's a shame that we wake up every day and we don't know what fresh tragedy has occurred- whose life had just been destroyed by senseless violence. Where are Americans safe from terrorism, from aggression? At work? At school? Going out to a concert with friends? Watching a movie? During a traffic stop? Eating a meal at a diner? Where can we enjoy ourselves or carry out our errands without fear of being murdered?
In the coming days, there will be articles written about Reinking, who he is, what he believes. There will be speculation about why he is the way he is- perhaps it's nature? Perhaps it's nurture? We will stare at his mugshot, analyzing his blank visage, peering into his dim gaze- a gaze so similar to the other killers. People will attribute his behavior to mental illness, to a poor upbringing, and to other, more nebulous factors.
Perhaps instead of thinking about why some people perpetrate violence on others, we should ask ourselves why these people have the opportunity to do so. We should also take the time to remember those whose lives were ended: Joe R. Perez, DeEbony Groves, Taurean Sanderlin, and Akilah Dasilva. All of them were in their early twenties, with bright futures ahead of them.
When will we have had enough of this?
*Photo from Nashville Police Station