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How can we face the American flag with our heads on swivels?

People pause at a memorial for the victims of a mass shooting in Las Vegas, Wednesday in Las Vegas. A gunman opened fire on an outdoor music concert on Sunday killing dozens and injuring hundreds. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Thomas Friedman pointed out in The New York Times that if the Las Vegas shooter had just shouted Allahu Akbar, we’d know exactly how to react: we would just keep on deporting people who had nothing to do with it, and dropping bombs in the usual places.

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But what do you do when the culprit is a 64-year-old retired white male gambler? How can you profile a guy like that? That’s America’s wallpaper.

All you’re left with is the forbidden conclusion that the real problem might just be that it’s too easy to get powerful weapons. But we dare not think that because easy gun ownership is our brand!

Many countries have freedom of speech, assembly, religion, rule of law, but we remain the only country with the freedom to easily purchase an unlimited number of firearms. We live in the only country where it’s legal to build an arsenal that could’ve mowed down an invading army.

In America, buying an arsenal like that is as normal as buying a set of kitchen knives. We have so many guns, I would guess that about the only time an American is not within range of a civilian gun is on the other side of the airport security checkpoint.

Which should make us feel safer because most civilian gun owners are good people. And yet, here we are – with our active-shooter drills in grade schools, warnings in movie theaters, and the advice to keep your head on a swivel in public places. At the same time, we declare ourselves to be a country so free that everyone is expected to stand and face the flag in gratitude for that freedom. Which is hard to do when your head is supposed to swivel in public places.

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