I was waiting for the next one: the next school shooting, the next theater massacre, the next headline that read, “10 dead, 9 injured.” It was just a matter of time.
After what happened at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon on Oct. 1, it has become clear that mass shootings are no longer anomalies. They’ve become routine, and we go through the motions rather quickly now. We see it, acknowledge it, maybe even retweet something about it and then we continue on with our days.
This isn’t the reality for those affected by the tragedy, though. The victims and their loved ones don’t get to dismiss the news. They become part of it, something they probably thought would never happen.
But it does happen. With more than 10,000 annual gun-related deaths in the U.S., according to the Department of Justice, imagine how many lives are changed each year. Imagine how frustrating and devastating it must be for the victims’ families when the response by public officials to their loved ones’ deaths is, in the words of Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, “Stuff happens.”
No one wants to change. No one wants to give up even an inkling of privilege so that others won’t be killed. Isn’t that upsetting? Isn’t that terrifying?
Every time President Barack Obama has to make a statement about mass shootings, he seems more and more furious and desperate for change, but like broken clockwork, nothing happens. At this point, I don’t expect it to, but every time I hear news of another shooting, there is a flicker of hope in me that maybe this time things will change, because I am terrified. I know many others share that feeling. Something has to be done about that.
I’m not here to tell anyone exactly how to fix this problem because, frankly, I don’t know what the best solution would be. I’m just acknowledging that there is a problem, which surprisingly some people can’t even do. Deep down, I know people understand that having mass shootings so often isn’t normal, but for some reason, many choose to deny that.
So, what can we do? We can start by not lying. We don’t need more guns, and that’s what people, such as the leaders of the National Rifle Association, are actually calling for. But that doesn’t make sense. More guns have never helped anyone, and what exactly are they supposed to accomplish?
We have had four presidents killed by guns. Three of them were protected by the Secret Service. These men were arguably the most protected men of their times, and yet they were murdered at gunpoint. How could a teacher, or even a group of them, protect a school from a shooter without causing more damage, if the most highly trained security team in the nation failed three times?
Another proposition people like to make is to ban all guns, but that’s almost as stupid as the idea of more guns. Although I hate the Second Amendment, and the extent to which it is stretched and mangled to fit gun lobbyists’ narratives, it is still a constitutional amendment. And on top of that, banning all guns doesn’t mean all guns go away. Just like what happened with alcohol during Prohibition, guns would be sold underground, and they would be untraceable by the government. If a person is willing to commit murder using a gun, then they would also be willing to commit a crime to get ahold of a gun, too.
It seems to me that we need to meet in the middle, but in our current political landscape, it is becoming increasingly difficult to do that. So how can we prevent these massacres from happening? How can we protect Americans from gun violence? We desperately need change. We can’t treat mass shootings as a normal way of life or as “stuff” that “happens.” We need to treat them like a catastrophic problem.
If we can form the Department of Homeland Security and start a war because 3,000 Americans were killed in a terrorist attack, then surely we can do something about the more than 10,000 Americans killed each year by gun violence. We shouldn’t have to be terrified; we should be able to feel safe in our homes, in our schools and in our country. We shouldn’t have to wake up to “9 injured, 10 dead.” We should be able to wake up and see our families and friends alive and well. That’s the America I want to live in.
Sam Hudock is a freshman communications major.