You can almost set a watch to the repetitive refrains that follow a mass shooting.
Shock followed by the inevitable interviews with "experts"; pictures of the dead; cries of blame and pointed fingers; the funerals; wrenching interviews with families; aggravating interviews with politicians and anti-gun and pro-gun supporters.
A few final news cycles relay findings from police reports staged before the school or business or hotel or church or movie theater reopens. There's an anniversary story at the one-year mark. The tragedy of lives cut short becomes a line in a chart of "mass shootings in the last year."
Mass shootings, sad to say, have become routine in this counry. A reporter for a Miami-area weekly newspaper pointed out that she's 23 and the Parkland shooting is the third she's covered.
It goes on and on. It's not whether there will be another shooting; it's when it will happen next.
It's all too easy to come up with "reasons" for a mass shooting: The shooter was mentally ill. The shooter was angry. The shooter hated a gender, a color, a religion. Guns are too easy to buy or obtain another way and background checks are too lax. The shooter's relatives, friends, and boss knew about threats but ignored the warnings. The school or business or hotel or church or movie theater didn't train its employees properly, or allow them to defend themselves.
Yet for all the outrage, the only voices to whom we should listen are the ones we ignore the most: those of the survivors. The people who survived when confronted with the end of a handgun, rifle, shotgun, or a semi-automatic weapon like the AR-15 used in Florida. The Emma Gonzalezes. The Steve Scalises. The Gabrielle Giffords. The Kacey Ruegsegger Johnsons. The Jim Bradys.
Beyond the mass shootings, survivors of any gun violence — whether civilian or police; whether caused by a criminal, a cop or a curious 5-year-old — are the voices that should be loudest.
On Saturday, a rally of students and adults tied to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School included words from a student named Emma Gonzalez. Her plea was for politicians and gun enthusiasts to act and to listen to what is said by those who survived. "We call BS," she led in response to every argument we hear after every mass shooting. "We call BS."
Too many Americans die by unnecessary gun violence. There has to be a way to prevent those deaths without infringing on the Second Amendment that reads, "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
We can keep asking why Americans keep dying from gun violence. We can keep wringing our hands, keep listening to people whose words of worry ring hollow, keep shaking our heads in disgust and sadness.
Or, we can call BS, and actually move forward.