I don’t know what to say.
Like everyone else, I’m shocked, saddened, and keep thinking about how some gun control needs to happen in this country. But at the same time, as The Onion pointed out, as a country, we’re incredibly used to this kind of thing.
The first major example of gun violence I can remember is Columbine. I was in elementary school, which unfortunately means there was probably an incident prior to Columbine that I could remember if I thought long enough and hard enough (I do remember other things, like O.J. Simpson, the Oklahoma City bombing, and Jon Benet Ramsey, all of which happened when I was pretty young).
Other shootings stand out. I was on a school trip to Disney World when the Virginia Tech shooting happened. Then there are the numerous publicized school shootings. Pittsburgh had the shooting at L.A. Fitness a few years ago, and we had the Western Psych shooting earlier this year, just before the Pitt bomb threats.
I woke up at 5:30 this morning for work. I took a shower, came down to my room, and turned on music for my morning routine. I checked Facebook and Twitter. I saw that there had been a shooting. I know that, especially as an adult, I will have many more mornings like this. As an adult, I also think about these things more critically. Sure, Columbine left even elementary-school kids rattled, but now I actually think about what I would do it that situation. The fact that it could very well be me at any time or place, or it could be someone I love.
(Similarly, the days of the Pitt bomb threats had the whole house on edge, from worrying about our Pitt roommate to wondering if something big was going on and if one day I’d check Twitter from work to see a death count or if I’d have to leave the city for my safety in a hurry or if I’d come home–again–to my roommates scared around the dining room terrible, saying, “Make sure you lock the door” and discussing self-defense options. This all needs discussed at length because words cannot express my anger at those people.)
As The Onion points out, we all know how this will play out. I’ll even throw in bonuses, like jokes made in poor taste on Facebook and Twitter. People blaming music, TV, and violent video games. The predictability is almost as sad as the loss of life–it shows that we’re so accustomed to this as a country that we know who’s going to say what and when and what the reaction will be.
I do believe American media is too accepting of violence. You’re more likely to see explosions and shootings in TV and movies than you are sex because somehow, sex has been the act deemed immoral and dirty and shouldn’t be seen. Despite the fact that sex, even in religious groups, is hailed as a personal, beautiful, and often loving act, it’s violence that is acceptable. We’ve reached a point where people being graphically hurt or killed is preferable to making love–the act that destroys life is okay, and the act that creates it is not. This doesn’t make any sense.
Personally, I don’t mind seeing violence on TV and movies in terms of taste, unless it’s gratuitous (but then, I don’t gratuitous anything). But we do have a problem when we become too used to this, even in real life. That said, I don’t think we should be blaming our pop culture. We may be desensitized to things and some people may be quite impressionable, but at the end of the day, each individual is responsible for his or her own actions. No movie or show or book made anyone do anything. Someone made a decision to hurt someone else.
Something needs to be done. Guns need to be a little bit harder to buy. Sure, the Constitution guarantees our right to have them, but that doesn’t meaning getting them should be easy. I–and few others–are suggesting going around rounding up everyone’s guns and taking them, yet the second someone says, “Wait a minute, maybe we need to rethink this,” second-amendment activists panic, proclaiming their rights. The Founding Fathers may have given you the right to your guns, but I’m pretty sure they didn’t foresee the way some people would use them and I’m pretty sure the Founding Fathers wouldn’t sit in the midst of a tragedy saying, “Oh, well, we told them they could have them!”
Once again, a single person has killed many. How many times does this have to happen before even the most right-wing gun owners agree that something needs to be done? When you see a problem unfolding, you fix it, and this is certainly a problem.
This Modern World puts it all very well in a cartoon written after Gabrielle Giffords’ shooting that was reposted today due its relevance.