Gun Violence in America: The Desensitization of a Generation

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I woke up on the Monday of homecoming week to the news that there had been another mass shooting in the United States. It was a theme day, so I pushed it to the recesses of my mind as I dressed in my character costume and got ready for school, which I was incidentally running late for. Being busy shouldn’t have been an excuse to ignore and forget the horrific event that occurred the previous night, but it felt normal to me as I drove to school.

Later in the day when I looked at the trending topics on twitter, I saw that the Las Vegas Shooting was the fourth news item down, underneath Tom Petty (who had died that same day), and other various hashtag games and trivialities. This struck me, not only because I was one of the people who pushed it to the side, but also because so many others had done the same exact thing as I had.

When did mass shootings become a thing to be quickly digested and put to the side?

I remember the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting in 2012 that made everyone nervous to go out to watch a movie. I remember being horrified by the Sandy Hook shooting later in the same year, which stirred action in my elementary school and made them install double security doors at the entrance. Even things as recent as the Pulse Nightclub shooting stirred a national cry for unity and mourning, but it seemed far too easy to ignore what happened in Las Vegas.

I am not using this article to ask for a change in our country’s gun laws. I am, however, using this article to ask for a change in our hearts.”

I truly believe that my generation has begrudgingly accepted that mass shootings are part of a new, twisted norm. Some blame our generation’s desensitization on violent video games and movies, but I take a different stance; I think that we’re just simply used to violence in our real lives. With everything that 2017 has brought worldwide, from missile threats and terrorist attacks, to marches on Washington and white supremacist rallies, we’ve grown used to having our news shock and terrify us. When looking at the dire statistics regarding mass shootings in the United States, it’s easy to see why.

From January 1st to October 3rd of this year, there were nine mass shootings in the United States, which averages to about one per month. Four of the five deadliest shootings to occur in modern US history took place during the past 10 years. My generation has grown up seeing mass shootings, and as they grow more and more frequent with less and less change, it seems that more of us have grown– and will continue to grow–accustomed to them.

I am not using this article to ask for a change in our country’s gun laws. I am, however, using this article to ask for a change in our hearts and the way we view the tragedies that befall not only the United States, but all the nations in the world. Rachel Scott wrote, “Don’t let your character change color with your environment,” and in these times where violence and negativity seems to run rampant, I can think of no better mantra for us all.

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