We can’t let this be normal

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 6, 2015

On Wednesday afternoon, my Facebook feed was peppered with people posting status updates about “another mass shooting.”

One friend added, “Oh, it must be Wednesday.”

Callous? Perhaps. But what I think my friend was really trying to get across was, nothing is changing. Each time someone picks up a gun or automatic weapon and opens fire into a church, movie theater, school or, most recently, a center for people with developmental disabilities, everyone left standing scatters into their ideological groups to see who can shout the loudest.

Email newsletter signup

One group says we need to pray. Another group says we need stricter gun laws. Another says we need fewer gun laws and more armed citizens. Another says we need fewer people of this religion or that religion in our country.

And after the dust settles, nothing really changes. Then, there is another shooting and everyone starts yelling over top of one another again.

One of my favorite satirical news sites, The Onion, reposted a story it previously ran last year. Titled, “‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens,” the short article says what many people are feeling following the recent deadly shooting at the San Bernardino Inland Region Center that left 14 people dead and more than 20 people wounded.

“Residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past five years were referring to themselves and their situation as ‘helpless,’” the article said.

I think most people do feel that way. Helpless.

Because you just never know where or when something like that could happen.

I found it startling to learn that, according to PBS and the Washington Post, which reported findings from Mass Shooting Tracker, there have been more than 350 mass shootings in the United States this year. These statistics define a mass shooting as incidents in which four or more people, including the gunman, are killed or injured by gunfire.

That’s more shootings than there have been days so far this year.

Even more disturbing is the fact that we are letting these incidents become commonplace. By arguing with one another about gun control or lack there of, nothing is accomplished. People who wish to do harm are able to acquire a disturbing amount of weapons and ammunition in this country, yet despite all the innocent people who have been buried, nothing changes.

The following is part of an editorial that appeared in The Sacramento Bee on Thursday, Dec. 3. I think it is a good commentary on the San Bernardino shooting and state of things in this country in regards to mass shootings.

“San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan made that clear at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. The shooters, he said, ‘were dressed and equipped in a way that indicates they were prepared. … They came prepared to do what they did, as if they were on a mission. They came in with a purpose.’

“While the FBI was reluctant to call it terrorism, what happened at Inland Regional Services was terrifying. But so are all other mass shootings.

“No matter what you call it, though, the root of the problem is the same: America allows too many guns to fall into the hands of too many people who shouldn’t have them. It’s one reason we have the dubious distinction of leading the world in mass shootings.

“As President Barack Obama said: ‘The one thing we do know is that we have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world, and there’s some steps we could take, not to eliminate every one of these mass shootings, but to improve the odds that they don’t happen as frequently.’

“Several Republican presidential candidates said they were praying for the victims and their families. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton took a different tack: ‘I refuse to accept this as normal.’ Her words echo Obama’s after the country’s last mass shooting, less than a week ago at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, Colo. ‘This is not normal,’ Obama said. ‘We can’t let it become normal.’

“Sadly, for many Americans, these shootings, these acts of domestic terrorism, have become just that. Normal. Today, every school kid knows what ‘an active shooter situation’ means. Employees do drills in drab office buildings so that they know what to do when and if the time comes.

“We should be thankful that law enforcement, paramedics, hospitals and others reacted quickly, the way they have been trained after so many similar incidents across the country. They almost certainly saved lives. But it’s still a troubling commentary on our times.

“Changing this dangerous level of acceptance of our new normal will require doing all of the things we already know we must do. Stricter gun laws, better services for the mentally ill and summoning the political willpower to do both.”


Michelle Goodman is the managing editor at The Tribune. To reach her, call 740-532-1441 ext. 12 or by email at michelle.goodman@irontontribune.com.