The same old story

Published 7:23 pm Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Less than two weeks after the tragic shooting in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, the headlines are already starting to become less frequent.

The majority of Americans seem to have moved on. We’ve thrown up our thoughts and prayers on Facebook and gone on about our daily lives. Meanwhile, the loved ones of the 31 people killed in those shootings are left to mourn, and their communities are left to heal.

A widely-circulated post on social media seems to accurately sum up our society’s reaction to gun violence as a never-ending, cyclical chain of events:

  • Mass shooting
  • Thoughts and prayers
  • Facebook debates
  • Everyone forgets
  • Congress does nothing
  • Crickets chirping
  • Mass shooting

Recycle, rinse and repeat — on and on, forever. In the ensuing debate, gun control supporters and 2nd Amendment rights supporters clash in a war of rhetoric. Politicians make sad excuses of sympathy and promise strong action, but nothing happens.

On a popular news satire website, The Onion, the same macabre headline has appeared year after year on a repeating basis in the wake of mass shootings. The headline simply reads, “‘No Way to Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.”

Plenty of suggestions are thrown out on how to prevent mass shootings, on both sides of the debate. Good guys with guns on every street corner, armed teachers, background checks, red-flag laws to identify those who might be a danger to themselves or others, gun buybacks and stricter gun laws — all of these have been floated as ways to help prevent tragedies of this nature.

The merits of these propositions are hashed out on social media, and might get cursory mentions from politicians, but ultimately, nothing happens, again and again and again.

When did we become so jaded to the violence? What has made us accept these shootings as a part of daily life? What is wrong with our society? When will we get tired of being complacent, and actually work together to find a way to prevent these things from happening? How much more blood has to be spilled before Democrats and Republicans in Washington and state capitals can get their acts together and make some kind of meaningful change?

Until we can break this cynical, devastating cycle of violence, Americans at least have one place to turn to relieve their fears — sales of bullet-resistant backpacks are soaring since this month’s shootings. Maybe Congress should buy one for every American child and give themselves a pat on the back for actually doing something.