North Texas Daily

Desensitization to mass shootings is something the US cannot afford

Desensitization to mass shootings is something the US cannot afford

Desensitization to mass shootings is something the US cannot afford
June 04
13:00 2021

Hardly six months into the year, there have already been 240 mass shootings in the United States in 2021, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as one with four or more people injured or killed, not counting the perpetrator. 

Other databases, such as the Mother Jones archives, which defines a mass shooting as three or more people killed or injured, reflect even higher mass shooting occurrences this year, documenting over 250 such occurrences in the U.S so far this year. 

Regardless of how a mass shooting is classified, the numbers reveal a troubling, disturbing trend in our society. 

After experiencing just two mass murders nationwide last year, shooting sprees are surging once more as mask mandates and social distancing laws are slowly repealed, allowing the public, along with its bad habits, to return. As America inches closer to returning to a pandemic-free lifestyle, mass shootings continue to plague the nation, deteriorating any sense of ‘normalcy’ people have longed for since the dawn of the pandemic. 

Last month, there were three mass murders in May alone, surpassing the entire yearly total of 2020 and leaving 21 people dead in the process. 

At times, it truly feels as though no place is safe anymore. Mass shootings are occurring literally everywhere. Churches, schools, concerts, and birthday parties- environments that usually initiate laughter, fun, and peace- have all been hosts to mass killing sprees this year.

Furthermore, not even minors have been spared of such excessive violence, as over 100 children have been tragically slain in mass shootings so far this year, according to the Gun Violence archive. 

Losing lives to such senseless acts is incredibly disheartening and only serves to drive an already disconnected society even further apart as the fear of others grows. What is most troubling about this issue, aside from the lives claimed, is just how dull the responses to these shootings have been. 

As the frequency of mass shootings increases within the nation, the desensitization to such crime found within the public seems to rise alongside it. In an age where news can be shared and consumed through all sorts of outlets, at a moment’s notice, stories of these tragic shootings hardly linger in the minds or social media pages of those who hear of them. 

After catching wind of yet another mass shooting, most people hardly bat an eye and usually just inquire on where the shooting took place before expressing relief that they were not a victim. As the dead bodies pile up as a result of these shootings, the American public hardly pauses to reflect on or even condemn such behavior within our nation. 

As recently as a few years ago, news of mass murder would stop Americans dead in their tracks, leading some to pray, contact their loved ones, and/or research more information about the shooting. Now, these killing sprees are being vastly overlooked and untreated, usually with only the victims’ families left to pick up the pieces. 

This isn’t to say that Americans have grown heartless, however. Instead, it seems as though the country has adopted a collective mindset of learned helplessness regarding the issue. Some of this can be attributed to guarding one’s mental health, as consuming info surrounding various mass shootings can be taxing and depressing, especially given its high frequency.

This learned helplessness can also stem from the hushed responses of the government as the killing sprees continue to mount. Citizens may feel as though if the government can’t slow down these shootings, they might as well become accustomed to them. 

Regardless of why this learned helplessness has become so commonplace, it has paved the way for the violence and trauma curated by mass shootings to become a part of our everyday routine. 

I do not believe it is hyperbolic to suggest that this demonstrated passiveness towards mass shootings paints a much bleaker future for our nation and ignores the true root of the issue which is the depreciating mental health of the American public coupled with loose gun laws. 

When one glosses over the reality of another killing spree, they shun the fact that a large subset of our society is struggling mightily with their mental health- a fight that often manifests into an outburst that harms others as well. 

Tragically, in many of the recent shooting sprees, the perpetrator kills themselves too, emphasizing just how corroded the mental health of an American citizen can become. When we fail to give these shootings the proper attention and response it warrants, we also neglect the underlying mental health issue, which is a catalyst for more violent outbursts moving forward. 

With new, stricter gun legislation looking like a longshot, at best, we as the American public must do a better job of understanding and condemning the high rates of gun violence experienced in our nation. This starts with us viewing these cases and their victims more personally, through an empathetic lens. 

When we do this, we become more connected to the pain caused by these crimes and as a result, become eager to oversee the end of these senseless killing sprees.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Jalyn Smoot

Jalyn Smoot

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