Today I flipped on the TV for my daily dose of unreality (General Hospital), only to be bombarded with news of yet another mass shooting. I feel sort of numb. Don’t you? That’s part of the problem.
That makes 355 mass shootings so far this year in the U.S. alone. That’s defining a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people (which could include the gunman) are killed or injured by gunfire. We’re averaging more than one mass shooting a day. To put it another way, every 16 minutes someone dies from gun-related violence. And we don’t even hear about most of them… only the ones that tickle the media’s appetite for viewership. Note: the San Bernardino shooting was the second mass shooting today… the first was in Atlanta, and nothing got preempted for it.
The knee-jerk emotional reaction (and simple answer) for many people is to blame guns and gun owners, but I think that’s faulty reasoning. I’m a gun owner. Have been since I was 12 years old and got my first .22 rifle (after having been proven trustworthy with a BB gun). We currently have guns in our home, which are kept locked in gun cabinets. I’ve always had guns, always been around guns, so have the great majority of my friends and family in the communities in which I’ve lived.
The flip side of the reaction is to run out and buy as many guns as we can (which the U.S. did on Black Friday this year, surpassing all previous gun-purchase records), and to obtain concealed carry permits, and risk becoming the next idiot whose loaded weapon falls out of his/her bag at Country Barrel and inadvertently shoots someone in the leg. Or the woman who decides she should whip out her revolver and shoot at the suspected shoplifters running out of a big box store, heedless of the fact she’s in a parking lot full of people. Um… no. Sorry. Arming everybody is obviously not an answer. Some people are too stupid to own a gun.
In the long run, guns aren’t the problem, or the solution. People are the problem. And people will have to be the solution. After all, people have created the problem:
- We’ve created a culture that glorifies and accommodates violence and brutality on every level.
- Fear is used as a motivator for almost everything in our society, from quitting smoking to who we vote for (or if we vote at all).
- Our society has no respect for life (and I don’t just mean fetal life, I mean ALL life…).
- The dramatic increase in economic inequality over the last few decades has trapped multiple generations in poverty and hopelessness.
- Our so-called democracy has turned into an oligarchy and only the top few with the most cash have a “voice” at all. This creates frustration, which breeds contempt.
- It’s next to impossible to obtain quality mental health treatment, particularly for the poor, and we still have massive stigma and prejudice about mental illness which hinders people from seeking help.
Is there an answer? I don’t know. I wish I did. I wish there was something better to say every time we hear of another shooting besides “our thoughts and prayers are with XYZ community,” while the insanity and horror continues to run amok.
In the meantime, hug your loved ones, keep your affairs in order, and be ready to meet your Maker, because we’re living in a war zone, and the enemy combatants are US.