Not if, but when....
It's all so sickeningly familiar.
A warm, tranquil Sunday is sullied with news of local senselessness, this time in Brookfield.
Just 77 days passed between the Sikh Temple shootings in Oak Creek that left seven dead and yesterday's carnage at the Azana. And, it was just seven years since another incident just down Moorland road where a gunman opened fire at a church meitng at a hotel.
Mass murder is no stranger in these parts, and it's not just a big-city Milwaukee-centric phenomenon. It happened in Crandon in 2007 where six died at the hands of a Forest County sheriff's deputy. An estranged husband killed six in Delevan that same year. Even the sanctity of "up north" was shattered when a hunter opened fire on others who accused him of trespassing during the 2004 deer hunt. Six died.
That's five mass killings in Wisconsin since 2004. Look around the rest of the country, and watch the body count grow.
It was just this past summer that a gunman chose the premiere of the new "Batman" movie to ply his deadly trade in Aurora, Colorado, leaving a dozen dead in his wake. Congressman Gabby Giffords gave the Pledge of Allegiance at this summer's Democratic National Convention, a living reminder of the mass shooting that left her seriously wounded and six others fatally shot the year before.
It's sadly too easy for us to forget, but the frequency of such events makes it hard to keep track. Remember Northern Illinois? Westroads Mall? Virginia Tech?
No one forgets Columbine, where 13 students were killed by two classmates who then turned their weapons on themselves in 1999. By one count, there have been 30 mass shooting incidents in the U.S. since.
But what about before?
The McDonalds in San Ysidro, California?
What then of Charles Whitman and his sniper attack from the University of Texas clock tower in 1964?
Each triggered renewed debates about gun rights, assault weapon availability and worries about the mentally ill somehow falling through the cracks. Sunday's Brookfield incident will no doubt spark debate about just what good restraining orders do to protect those fearing for their lives.
And it seems that, amid all the talk, nothing changes.
Be it the longer making a lethal final statement, the hater harboring murderous intent for those who don't look/believe the same way he does, the rebuffed spouse or the aforementioned deranged person who doesn't get snagged by the safety nets designed to keep them from harming the rest of us, we are once again left to mourn the dead and wonder not if, but when it might happen again.