Yes, you heard correctly; there has been another mass shooting in the United States of America. As of today, the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, has left more than 10 innocent people dead and at least 20 others injured. As of today, this is now the 45th mass shooting in the United States this year.
Just think about that for one second.
That’s five shootings a month. That’s a very bitter pill to swallow, or it would be, had it not long ago lost its power to induce sobering thoughts.
There will, of course, be rabbles over the Second Amendment. Politicians will climb atop their soapboxes. Families will rally and fundraisers will be held to bury children who’ve barely made their first steps into the wonderful world of adulthood. Funerals will be attended, for the bubble has burst. Another bubble has burst over someone’s personal slice of Americana.
But it’s a different bubble altogether. It’s not the same one. We used to tell ourselves, “Please, let’s not let such atrocities happen again.” Now the cry is a quiet one. Now the cry is meek. It is one of defeat. It proclaims, “Please, don’t let it happen here!” with such terrible, tired exasperation, for mass shootings have long become an acceptable addition to the cultural zeitgeist.
They’ve permeated society’s sense of consciousness. It becomes natural then to regard the gun control debate as a simply another attack on civil liberties rather than the very public plea for help and reform that it is. It becomes second nature to mock the political pundits who don their Mass Shootings hats and give half-hearted answers with little pursuit for credibility. It becomes just another conversation because we’ve long become numb.
Was a .45 caliber pistol used at any point? Probably not. They tend to bring out the heavy artillery these days. But that doesn’t lessen the adrenaline rush of a .45, of the feeling of cold, hard steel in one’s hands. I’m sure I’ll uncover the rest of the details the more I read the news, as troubling as it is.
We lose sight of the names of the victims. You might see a news story here, an editorial there, a several page spread some other place. These do, however, tend to be eclipsed by the names of the perpetrators. Yet, for every minute detail with which we are presented, for every bit of knowledge we obtain—faces, names, family backgrounds, habits, proclivities, friendships (or lack thereof), political leanings, illnesses, diseases, disorders, right down to the especially gory details of various acts of carnage themselves—we’ve failed to truly understand why these crimes are committed. We’ve failed to grasp this the moment we instead aim to please a political lobby and forget that we’re speaking about human lives.
Perhaps we will continue to forget this, for the past, our lawmakers seem to want us to believe, is obdurate. It cannot be changed. Turn on the news. Tonight we’ll show you how to get the best bang for your buck the next time you’re in Miami. Here’s another video of a cat. Here’s an amateur commentator with a YouTube channel telling us how much he hates the President. We must bury our dead, say goodbye to our children. Stitch some new patchwork over that popped seam in that bubble which allowed the devils to come in.
Perhaps we will continue to forget this until each and every one of us loses someone we love to gun violence.
Such a thought frightens me, because this is, of course, assuming we don’t fall prey in the next round ourselves. This is, of course, assuming we don’t lose the power to speak up come number 46.
Thinking about that number is tiring and exasperating. So is thinking about the number after that. And the next. And the next. That’s a very bitter pill in itself.