In our society, we react to mass shootings in such a unique way. We used to be shocked and terrified by mass shootings and demand change within our society. I remember hearing about a school shooting at a very young age and being completely torn apart by it. I couldn’t believe that someone could so easily and readily take the lives of others without a care. Even as a child, I saw guns as a bad thing and the main perpetrator in school shootings. My logic as a child was, “Why don’t we just take these guns away?” And honestly, today, although my logic is more refined and I understand the workings of the world much more, I still believe in stricter gun laws. Unfortunately, we’ve internalized and normalized these shootings making us detached from these tragedies that continue to occur within our nation. Rather than having the same reaction we did when we first heard about a school shooting, we see it as an unfortunate part of living in 21st century America.
Schools around the country have drills for natural disasters as well as for school shootings. Last year was my first year at university, and in my freshman seminar class, we took an entire period discussing what to do if a shooter was on campus. Our society has normalized shootings and gun violence so much that rather than take measures to reform gun laws, we put the pressure on our citizens to just be more prepared because “it’s bound to happen.” This mentality is also seen when discussing rape; It just happens. It’s awful and it sucks, but hey it happens. And that is where our discussion of rape and gun regulation is extremely flawed.
No, these things don’t “just happen.” Our culture has created an environment that allows for these events to consistently occur. We put so much attention into the shooter rather than the victims. We blame anti-gun groups, saying they are the ones who have disarmed us, making us more vulnerable to shooters. But we fail to criticize the gun industry and it’s bloodlust. The bottom line is that gun corporations make money off mass shootings, creating a bigger problem regarding the regulation of guns. It is more difficult for women to acquire birth control than it is to walk into a store and get a gun. It is more difficult for me to make an appointment with a mental health provider than it is for me to walk in and purchase a gun.
The tragedy at the Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon in the past month is a tragic event. But how many people, besides those directly involved in the event, do you see mourning the victims? Instead, our media focuses on the shooter, which is exactly what shooters want. They want the attention that we Americans give them. They take the attention away from the victims, putting it on themselves. And we allow this to happen every time we sit idly by, not petitioning or advocating for a change in gun regulation. Why aren’t we taking more action regarding gun regulation? And why have we allowed this to become such a normal event. Not once, in reaction to the shooting, have I heard anything about how upsetting it is that this happened. Everyone’s first reaction to the shooting was, “Shit, seriously? Another one? That sucks.” Yes it does suck, but merely forgetting about the event the next day is not okay.
Instead, we need to take action and demand for changes in gun regulation. We need change in this nation, and we the citizens of the United States of America must make our voices heard and demand that our government, who is supposed to protect us, take further action against this issue instead of pushing it aside as usual. Change begins with us, and I encourage you to take a stand against gun laws and how apathetic we have become as a nation.