We Can’t Prevent Mass Shootings Until We Change How We Talk About Them

Candlelight Vigil In Texas For The Sutherland Springs Massacre
By Texas A&M University-Commerce Marketing Communications Photography

This dialogue is not just important, but it is necessary. And it is not only urgent, but long overdue.

Tragedy strikes as yet another mass shooting that could have been prevented has taken more innocent lives. I should be angry and I should be upset, but I shouldn’t be numb. But I’m numb. I feel paralyzed by the shock that this has happened once again. I’m at loss for words and find it harder to find my voice each time this happens. This country is at war with guns and it is losing terribly. It will continue to lose until the perspective changes and the narrative is finally rewritten, but this cannot happen until everybody accepts two very vital facts:

  1. Guns are bad.
  2. All mass-murderers are terrorists.

Read through the media’s headlines and start seeing mass-shootings for what they really are: preventable. It takes more than just laws and legislation to create effective change — it stems from our unity. The country is divided on a series of issues, but I cannot comprehend how anybody, regardless their political affiliation, can honestly defend the use of guns after witnessing mindless shootings time after time. Why do guns have more support than human life? How many more people have to die until it is unanimously understood that guns are bad?

While I don’t understand how anybody can defend a weapon that has killed so many people, I also cannot fathom how the people behind those weapons are not considered to be terrorists. When it is white American citizens pulling the trigger, that doesn’t mean we cannot hold them accountable for the acts of terrorism they are committing the same way we hold terrorists from other countries accountable for their actions. Domestic terrorism is still terrorism, and it does not see race nor does it see religion. Terrorism sees murder and fear mongering. It is important not to be ignorant to that.

The root of the word ‘terrorism’ emerged in the late eighteenth-century, its use gaining popularity in post-revolutionary France during Maximilien Robespierre’s Reign of Terror. The word was used to literally describe a period of time where one person, Robespierre, was instilling fear amongst the masses. At the time, the definition of terrorism wasn’t constituted by ethnographic characteristics, as Robespierre himself was French. Today, terrorism is defined as the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, but many still interpret the world with a connection to race and religion. If the circumstance in which the word ‘terrorism’ gained its popularity is based on a French domestic terrorist like Robespierre, then where along the way did its meaning become exclusively racist?

I’m tired of reading headlines confirming that some of the biggest mass shootings in the United States’ recent history are not considered acts of terrorism; I’m tired of seeing bigotry ruling the country instead of benevolence; and I’m mostly tired of seeing the world hurt and not seeing enough people do anything to make it stop. We need to hold the government AND the media accountable for fostering violence racism instead of peace and togetherness. We are all human and the only thing that makes some people better than others is their capacity for empathy and their understanding of equality. Let’s pull our act together, get guns under control, and hold domestic terrorists accountable. TC mark

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