Another week begins in the wake of the mass murder of innocent Americans, their lives ended by yet another well-armed gunman. Our hearts break for each victim and the survivors who will never be the same. Again, we wonder when and how the violence will stop. Again, we hunger for the leadership our unique national problem demands.


Sadly, in the face of real American carnage, the President responded not with emotion, inspiration or leadership but with a deflecting and disjointed list of bullet points delivered with all the conviction of a hostage video.


Two years of bloated self-congratulation and divisive fear-mongering have dulled our sense of what Presidential leadership looks like. If our President were committed to saving lives and healing the anger that consumes our country, he might have said something like this:


“My fellow Americans: this weekend, the steady tide of blood that runs in our streets, our houses of worship and our communities crested. Mothers and children shot down into pools of blood is the definition of American carnage.


“Every other country on the planet has mental illness, the internet, a fractious media and video games. I will not allow explanations to shift from the unique thing America does to kill its own: facilitate the acquisition and ownership of deadly weapons by anyone with a pulse. Today, I call on the Congress to finish the work of requiring that anyone exercising their Second Amendment rights undergoes a background check to ensure that they are not a danger to others. I also call upon the Congress to remove every weapon of war from our streets. Assault rifles, 100 round ammunition drums, bump stocks and silencers must be in police stations and military barracks and nowhere else.


“Americans have a constitutional right to bear arms. But our society has a long-established duty to regulate that right in a way consistent with public safety. Regulation will not stop all the violence. But refusing to save some lives in the service of an industry or an ideology or our inability to save all lives is a moral crime.


“Finally, too much violence is perpetrated by those who believe their claim to our country precedes or preempts someone else’s. We are a nation of those who came from somewhere else. We came from places where we were persecuted and abused. Almost without exception, we arrived on American soil to learn that we were despised by those who came before us. But the American Dream was visible just on the horizon and so we persevered.


“If you are uncomfortable with those who arrive speaking an odd language or worshipping an unfamiliar god, it is you, not they, who betray the idea of America. It is you, not they, who must consider whether a country dedicated to equality before the law and to ‘e pluribus unum’ is a congenial one.”