Disclaimer: This post comes from emotion. These are my immediate and unedited feelings. There may be minor inaccuracies (the only research I did was use google and I get most of my news from The Daily Show), but this is the perception that I have about a major problem facing our country.
Just over a year ago, I wrote about Columbine and Sandy Hook. I was reading Dave Cullen’s Columbine for the 4th time because it was comforting in the wake of tragedy and I was devastated by the Sandy Hook tragedy. Then, like always happens, I slowly forgot about it. The pain of a memory that wasn’t even mine faded away again. I watched political talking heads debate gun control until they didn’t anymore. In the immediate wake of tragedy, everyone is looking for what caused it, how it can be prevented. But then, as the wounds begin to heal, we stop hearing about it, mostly because most of us stop talking about it.
In the last week it seems that my Facebook news feed is all but covered in stories about shootings. I hate to admit it, but I hardly even read the stories anymore. First because I can’t bare to see another photo of a mother covering her mouth to guard against the unexplainable or a police officer standing stoically behind a podium. I cannot read these stories anymore knowing that nothing is going to be done to stop these senseless crime. These constant stories and updates only serve to display how broken our government is. The fact that the NRA somehow wields more power than the image of 20 children gunned down in their elementary school is inconceivable to me. The fact that anyone can suggest more guns is the way to handle this problem literally makes my chest hurt.
All deaths caused by people with guns are horrifying, but it is the school shootings that get to me the most. It’s the story of a gunman in a high school in Oregon that prompted this post. The school shootings take me back to high school, to seeing what happened at Columbine. Immediately I picture Patrick Ireland throwing himself out of the library window. I can see high school students running to safety with their hands glued to their heads. The tragedy at Columbine happened 15 years ago. Many of my students weren’t even born and yet they are faced with the same tragedies over and over. Why are we still having these same conversations? Why are we not dealing with the real problems? I’m not only talking about legislation, I’m talking about mental health. Dylan Klebold was severely depressed. Adam Lanza, by all accounts, was battling a mental illness. Gun Control Legislation and Mental Illness are the two phrases that people like to throw around after any one of these tragedies and yet nothing is done to actually enact any change. In the year and a half since Sandy Hook, 1500 state gun bills were introduced while only 109 of them have become laws. Some states have even loosened their gun restrictions. Last week on the Daily Show Jon Stewart did a whole segment on some assholes taking their assault rifles into a Chilis just because they could. Why are there assault rifles? Why do people feel the need to glorify them? Why are we giving them the time of day?
In every interview that he gives, Dave Cullen talks about how we need to stop naming these mass killers. We need to focus on the victims and the survivors and not give the murderers the attention that they crave. I, of course, agree, however, I don’t think that this is really our biggest problem. It’s one of them and it shows a more inherent, systemic issue, but until our government is ready to stand up and do something, DO ANYTHING, we’re going to keep having this conversation and Facebook will continue to be a minefield every time I sign on.