Tom Brokaw on America’s legacy: Mass murder, made in the USA

Tom Brokaw attends the “Five Came Back” world premiere at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on March 27, 2017 in New York City. (Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

After a shooting massacre in Las Vegas Sunday killed 58 and wounded 489 more, Tom Brokaw delivered a powerful sermon on the “made-in-America mass murder.”

Brokaw, the longtime “NBC Nightly News” anchor who is now a special correspondent at the network, appeared on NBC’s “Today” Tuesday to introduce a narrated segment grappling with the killings. The newsman, who is 77, contrasted his memories of America in his youth with what he sees around him now.

“This country obviously is the greatest experiment in self-rule, the rule of law. People come from all over the world because they want to be part of the American dream,” Brokaw said in his introduction. “I grew up as part of that, but now we’re going to look back on this era and we’re going to think about mass murderers, shootings that have no rationale whatsoever.”


“This time it was a crowded concert in Las Vegas,” Brokaw said in the segment. “Another made-in-America mass murder to go with others: the massacre at an elementary school in Connecticut, the slaughter at Virginia Tech. Of the 17 mass murders since the ‘60s, only two relate to Islamic terror: the tragedies in Orlando and in San Bernardino.”

Later in the clip, Brokaw charged Americans “cannot have a civil debate about guns and their use.”

“As guns become more lethal, so does the political debate become more toxic,” he said.

“The NRA, one of the most powerful lobbies in American politics, has temporarily suspended commercials in the Virginia governor’s race, but it will return. Already, gun enthusiasts are locked and loaded, ready for the coming debate after Las Vegas.”

After the segment had ended, Brokaw said gun violence “is an issue that requires the best efforts of all of us.”

“This has got to go to the top of the agenda in American life.”

The full text of Brokaw’s segment is below:

This time it was a crowded concert in Las Vegas. Another made-in-America mass murder to go with others: the massacre at an elementary school in Connecticut, the slaughter at Virginia Tech. Of the 17 mass murders since the ‘60s, only two relate to Islamic terror: the tragedies in Orlando and in San Bernardino.

 And once again, we’re in the middle of a debate about guns in America. The percentage of Americans who own guns is going down, an estimated 32%. But gun owners are stockpiling even more weapons. The average owner now has at least eight weapons.

 And ironically, the outcry over Las Vegas will drive more owners to buy more guns and more ammo, worrying that there will be more restrictions.

 In entertainment, guns are essential to what we see on the screens. Video games rely on firearm violence. Yet, we cannot have a civil debate about guns and their use. As guns become more lethal, so does the political debate become more toxic.

 The NRA, one of the most powerful lobbies in American politics, has temporarily suspended commercials in the Virginia governor’s race, but it will return.

 Already, gun enthusiasts are locked and loaded, ready for the coming debate after Las Vegas.

 In Las Vegas, a commentary on our time. When the concertgoers heard the gunshots, they knew to run or to comfort each other and seek sanctuary in each other’s arms.

 And now it’s left to the Rolodex of the Las Vegas dead and wounded to mourn, and to pray for their recovery.

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