At what point did “it happened again,” change from a statement to a question?
On Feb. 14 — Valentine’s Day — a 19-year-old Floridian named Nikolas Cruz opened fire at his former high school killing 17 students and faculty and injuring 15 others.
The intense growth in frequency of mass shootings over recent decades — even the recent year — has stunned us, polarized our lawmakers and irreparably damaged communities around the nation. America has a problem and it’s costing us lives at an alarming rate.
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, a non-profit advocate for gun control, America has experienced 291 school shootings since 2013. That’s an average of about one a week.
In the first seven weeks of 2018, we’ve experienced 18 shootings at schools. Seven of them were attacks resulting in injury or death.
For many of us, the experience doesn’t last very long. We’re immediately shocked, dismayed and saddened. We try to empathize with the families of victims and we question how someone could do such a thing. We look to the news and our friends and family for answers, but don’t find any good ones. We see our politicians argue about gun control, one side choosing to defer the issue in fear of the backlash they might receive at the midterm voting booths or the loss of campaign funding from powerful lobbying groups like the NRA. But none of this lasts very long. Our lawmakers move on without any real change being made, and we all get to escape back into our lives.
Some don’t get this privilege.
No longer should we have to stand for inaction on this issue. It’s time to break from the self-perpetuating cycle of violence and insensitive negligence to finally reach an agreement on a course of action, regardless of what it is.
Rather than focusing on the politics of the matter, we need to focus our attention on the victims. Their communities. Their families.
Until we take action, the number of shootings that we see will continue to increase, along with the pain and suffering of our nation.
Whether it’s background checks or other gun control measures, serious steps to help address the role that mental health or domestic violence plays in this issue, or getting illegal guns off the streets: we need to take some kind of step forward.
Otherwise this cycle will continue, because we can’t bridge the political divide and address these life and death issues.
Only then can we stop stop saying, “it happened again.”