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Let’s just come right out and say it immediately: If you’re someone who values innocent life, someone who is outraged by the killing of two black men by police officers who appeared to break their oath to protect and serve, you’re hopefully equally outraged by the wanton shooting of 11 police officers tonight in Dallas. Removing for just a moment the undeniable racial component from the instigating incidents, a person who doesn’t deserve to be gunned down in the street is still a person who doesn’t deserve to be gunned down in the street. Tonight, those Dallas cops were simply doing their jobs honorably and it’s doubtful an overwhelming number of those peacefully protesting the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile wanted to see any of them lose their lives, let alone five of them.

But now five cops are indeed dead. Seven more are wounded. All because somebody decided that America wasn’t fucking insane enough and the violence and chaos in our streets needed to be ratcheted up even further. It’s difficult to process that this is who we are now: a nation where a black life can be snuffed out for a traffic stop and the response to that can be a literal sniper attack on an entire police department, with assault weapon fire raining down from above and people running for cover as if they were living in Fallujah rather than Dallas, Texas. It’s not difficult to imagine that the act of heavily armed madmen tonight will only escalate the situation, as angry reactionaries who pride themselves on being even more heavily armed – taking incitement from irresponsible dicks like former congressman Joe Walsh, who tonight tweeted that President Obama and Black Lives Matter had better watch out because “real America” is coming for them – take up those arms and declare war in the name of God, the police and oppressed white people everywhere.

The cycle isn’t going to break here. What happened tonight isn’t going to somehow cause cops nationwide to stop, scratch their collective chin and contemplate their views on race and human life or their sometimes grotesque lapses in good police procedure. No, it’s only going to make things worse. Because that’s what violence always does – it leads to more violence. And what’s more, it’s now going to potentially turn the dangerously unstable partisan divide in this country into some kind of shooting war, with Fox News and talk radio rallying its Second Amendment faithful to one side of the Thin Blue Line and black America in their literal rather than figurative crosshairs. It’ll be something so much more dire than simply people shouting at each other because we live in a country where everybody has fucking guns. Where it’s a God-given right to own your own private arsenal. Where you can not only buy military grade weaponry perfect for outgunning armed police officers from elevated positions but, in Texas, you can walk around on the street carrying them out in the open legally right up to the point you decide to use them.

But it has to stop someplace. It has to. This madness has to end. Because if a rash of people killed unnecessarily by police officers becomes a city turned into a war zone and 11 police officers shot, God only knows what those 11 police officers shot will turn into. Whatever it is, we can’t afford it. Too many lives have already been lost.