Steve Hartman: Leaders must do something -- anything -- to stop mass shootings

NEW YORK -- This may have been one of the worst mass shootings in history, but it's still a familiar script. We witness the nightmare, meet the heroes who risked their lives and honor the victims.

Now it's supposed to fall on me to say something hopeful and life-affirming, right? That's what I do.

It's what I've done after just about every mass shooting. At this point I would say I'm out of words, but I already said that last year.

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Steve Hartman

CBS News

Which is why I was so struck by what The Onion published this week. It may be a satirical newspaper, but this article was a serious gut-punch.

The headline reads, 'No Way to Prevent This,' Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens. There was a phony quote from a made-up person that said, "This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there's nothing anyone can do to stop them."

It seemed topical, until I realized it's the same article they've published after nearly every shooting since 2014. They change the town and the body count, but that's about it.

Let's face it, our indignation has taken on a hollow sameness. We say we want to wash away this epidemic, but all we do is "pray, mourn and repeat." We're on a treadmill. And it's killing us -- 58 at a time now.

I keep hoping that someday a life will flash by, that someone in this endless procession of funerals will make us say, "That one, that one there, is the last straw." If not the special ed teacher, then maybe the nursing student. If not the devoted mom, then maybe the Navy vet, who survived a war in Afghanistan, but couldn't make it out alive from a country concert.

So, to those in charge -- we know we'll be back here again. No one is expecting you to actually stop the next shooting. All we're asking, more than anything, is that you try -- anything.

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  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.