Opinion — 19 February 2018

Seventeen people lost their lives in this week’s Stoneman Douglas shooting in Florida. Twenty eight were killed in Sandy Hook. Twelve people died at Columbine and twelve died in the 2012 Aurora shooting.

Sixteen were killed in San Bernardino. Thirty two at Virginia Tech. Fifty eight people were killed in Las Vegas last October. Forty-eight died in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.

Tragedies like this happen almost daily now, and we’re becoming numb to it. The fact that we’re now so used to these tragedies is ridiculous to the point of being almost satirical of itself.

The scenario plays out the same each time. There’s a moment of silence, a week or so of national mourning, the flag goes to half-staff, “thoughts and prayers” and a hashtag get tweeted out, and the cycle begins anew a week or two later. The thing is, because we don’t demand our representatives in Washington do a damn thing about it, the citizens of this country are Implicitly ok with it, and that’s appalling.

This country ostensibly guarantees the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” to each of its citizens, and yet we are less and less shocked, less horrified each time this happens to our neighbors. Another mass shooting? Meh, what are you going to do? We’ve got our rights … Hey look, a burger with artisanal cheese at McDonalds. (Never mind that I don’t know what “artisanal” means.) Hey look, a sale at Walmart. Hey look, Trump tweeted more insults at another d-list celebrity. He’s so silly. Now, what’ll I have for lunch tomorrow?

We, as a society are increasingly turning a blind eye to mass shootings. We watch the body count go up on our 24 hour news channels, like some perverted video game score. Our natural inclination is to be shocked – but, perhaps out of overuse, that part of our brains seems to be turning off. That itself should be alarming, because it could, and nearly did, happen here.

Last October, Las Positas had a gun scare of its own. It turned out to be a false alarm and nothing more than a Nerf gun – but it could have been oh so worse. The Associated Press reports the FBI admitted it dropped the ball on not following up on a tip that could have averted the Stoneman Douglas shooting. If we continue to turn a blind eye, the body count will only go higher.

My point isn’t so much “gun control” as it is “Pull your heads out of the sand and stay horrified.” We must, just as we were horrified by 9/11, if not more so. We pulled together as a nation then, however briefly, and there’s no reason we can’t do it again. No matter your stance on guns, ignoring the problem is not the solution.

Snap out of it, and stay horrified. We cannot become numb to this.

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Ian Jones

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