By Ian Jones
If mass shootings become normalized, we lose more than just precious lives.
Seventeen people lost their lives in the recent Stoneman Douglas shooting in Parkland, 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 repeated traumas 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. Nothing changes, because we don’t demand our representatives in Washington do a damn thing about it. In a sense, then, 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? Well, I mean, what are you going to do? We’ve got our rights … Hey look, a new burger with artisanal cheese at McDonald’s, never mind that I don’t know what “artisanal” means. Hey look, a sale at Walmart. Hey look, President 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 desensitized 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 to us all, because that’s a part of our humanity dying, and if that doesn’t bother you, the fact that a shooting could happen here should.
In fact, Las Positas had a gun scare of its own last October. It turned out to be nothing more than a Nerf gun – but the tension on campus that day was palpable. We got lucky, but the outcome could have been so much worse.
According to the Associated Press, the FBI admitted to failing to follow up on a tip that could have averted the Stoneman Douglas shooting. We all need to keep our eyes open. If we continue to acclimate ourselves to this “new reality,” the body count will only go higher – and that’s all the more reason to utilize the post-9/11 saying, “If you see something, say something.”
My point here 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 repulsed by 9/11. We pulled together as a nation then, however briefly, and there’s no reason we can’t do it again.
We cannot become numb to this. It is unacceptable.