Police say Jason Dalton began his killing spree at 5:42 p.m. when the Uber driver from Kalamazoo, Michigan, shot a woman multiple times as she stood in the parking lot of her apartment complex on Saturday night. More than four hours later, Dalton killed a father and son as they looked at cars at a local dealership. Then just fifteen minutes later, Dalton opened fire on two parked cars at a Cracker Barrel restaurant, killing four women.
When police apprehended Dalton at 12:45 a.m., they found a semi-automatic handgun in the car. According to The New York Times, a neighbor said Dalton “used guns in a troubling manner,” including occasionally firing off rounds out of the back door of his house.
In all, six people were killed and two were injured in the Kalamazoo County gun rampage. Police are still searching for a motive in what they're describing as random killings that terrorized the city for seven hours.
Coming in the wake of other recent shooting sprees across America, including deadly attacks in a church in Charleston, SC, a community college in Oregon, and at a government center in San Bernardino, CA, which was later deemed a terrorist attack, the Kalamazoo killings fit into a uniquely American pattern of gun rampages.
In response, President Obama for years has tried to pass new legislation to address the issue of gun safety, but has been blocked at every turn by Republicans and their supporters at the National Rifle Association. So not only is gun violence an issue of health and public safety, it's also a pressing issue for political debate.
But yesterday, the Sunday morning talk shows all passed on the Kalamazoo story and the topic of gun violence in America. On ABC's This Week, CBS's Face The Nation, CNN's State of the Union, Fox News Sunday, and NBC's Meet The Press, not a single reference was made to the Michigan shooting spree, according to Nexis.
That's five hours of programming from shows that ostensibly address the week's most pressing issues in America, and yet no discussion of the country's latest killing spree, or what public officials should do to address the problem of gun violence.
If the alleged Kalamazoo shooter had been a Muslim, would the Sunday shows have all ignored the killings?
Note that the programs yesterday were flooded with a combined 19 interviews with presidential candidates, who are precisely the type of people who should be asked about gun violence and what their plans are, if any, to deal with this public health crisis.
Instead, the Sunday shows this week were focused largely on the presidential campaign season and the minutiae surrounding the various strategies for the candidates. For instance, there were dozens of references on the Sunday shows to polls and polling yesterday, but not a single reference to the Kalamazoo killing spree or the topic of gun violence.
Time and again we've seen how partisan pursuits by the press trump the issue of gun violence. Remember last year when CBS sat down with Obama for a one-on-one 60 Minutes interview and CBS ended up editing out of the telecast questions about gun violence in order to make room for questions about Hillary Clinton's emails?
And too often during the primary season debates we've seen media moderators not press candidates about guns. That, despite the fact that more than 30,000 Americans die each year from guns. (More than 1.5 million have died since 1968.) Another 70,000 Americans are wounded by guns annually. And gunshot injuries cripple our health care system under the strain of nearly $2 billion in hospital costs each year. (Overall, an investigation by Mother Jones magazine found gun violence has a direct cost of $8.2 billion each year with $229 billion in additional indirect costs annually.)
If ever there were a time the press and the Sunday shows ought to be addressing the deadly topic of guns, it's now, in the wake of another rampage and during the an election year when candidates are addressing America's future.
Stop dodging the issue.