Gun Violence: It Is Time For More Than Just Reflection
Issue   |   Tue, 02/20/2018 - 18:57

In light of recent events in Florida once again sparking brief concern about the issue of gun safety, I think that we should all reflect on the events and public apathy that have led to this current environment. 17 people were killed last week in a shooting at a Florida high school, and there have since been rallying cries across the nation for increased laws regulating access to guns, such as mandatory background checks before the purchase of a firearm. But these cries have occurred before, and we often find ourselves wondering how this can happen again and again. After the Charleston church shooting, we thought it would change, and we thought so again after the shooting in the Pulse nightclub, and we thought so for all the shootings before, after and in-between, but we were wrong. The fact of the matter is that the public outcry following a shooting is short-lived, and though the events will stay with the people involved for the rest of their lives, the rest of us are only too quick to forget because it’s harder to remember and know that all of the work that we might put into something could be for naught.

The problem is two-fold, then. According to the Washington Post, studies have shown that conservatives are generally more afraid for their physical safety. Because they are more afraid, they are more politically active since fear is the greatest motivator for humans. It’s easy to rile conservatives up based on the fear that they will no longer be able to protect themselves — the fear that they will lose their guns. Perhaps the problem then is that liberals are not afraid enough. The direct victims of gun violence are more active on behalf of reform because of their experience — because they are afraid. The rest of the country is only outraged. The rest of us should realize that this can happen to anyone at any time, and we shouldn’t just be outraged, we should be afraid as well.

The other half of the problem comes from the fact that we are not attentive enough to the issues which grow in our own country. Every time a mass shooting occurs, the news digs through the shooter’s past and uncovers many things, analyzing every aspect of their personality. But this only occurs in hindsight. The people surrounding them might see the signs, like torturing animals, violence against women or sometimes self-harm, but reports are ignored until it’s too late. The FBI received tips on the shooter in Florida, but they didn’t act. The people around him noticed his behavior and realized that he was displaying warning signs. We live in a time where most people’s lives are up on the internet for the taking. Why then do we have such trouble acting on what’s right in front of us? Why can we not admit that these people are of our own creation? It’s easy to see people focusing on the issue of terrorism in our society on the global scale. The president and his followers seem especially concerned with it, but they are focusing on something external, trying to keep a problem from coming in. But, when the violence is perpetrated by our own citizens, we are quick to label it as unfixable and ignore its underlying causes, as if this is something that just happens. I think we should all admit that the poison is already inside us.