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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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How many is too many?

Gun+Control
Graphic by Claire Shepherd
Gun Control

“There was another mass shooting today.”

“Really? That’s awful.”

“Yeah.”

For many, that’s it. That’s the extent of the conversation. A few people will post their thoughts on Facebook. A few may even write a letter to the government, asking for something to change. But nothing will.

Americans have become numb to the statement “there’s been a mass shooting.” Sure, it elicits thoughts of shock and mourning, but it’s also become a far-too familiar statement. 

This numbed response is horrible. It shouldn’t be common conversation to talk about the death of nine students in a community college in Oregon. Or 20 elementary students and six staff members. Or 12 people at a midnight movie showing. 

My first thought should not be, “Oh, another one,” but it is. And that’s because nothing has changed, despite shooting after shooting.

Obama called these shootings routine, and that’s exactly what they are. There’s a routine of hearing the news. Several news outlets have pre-written breaking news sources in the event — which is a more and more common event — that a shooting occurs where they leave blanks for the location and number of victims.

The reaction of politicians is laughably predictable. They’ll talk about how things must change. They’ll target either gun control being too weak or too strong. They’ll talk about mental illness and how steps must be taken to cure it, to fight it. 

Each time it happens, it feels like a movie I’ve seen before. The only thing that changes is the setting — never the plotline. 

At what point will it be too much? How many shootings are we away from the last straw? How many people must die before we decide it’s too many people?

If you want to use these shootings as a platform to talk about gun control, that’s fine. If you want to use them as a platform to talk about school security, that’s fine. If you want to use them as a platform to talk about mental illness, that’s fine. But something needs to happen. Something needs to change. Talk isn’t going to stop the next shooting. If anything, talk may be very well what enables some of these people to go into schools, into theaters, into churches with guns. They know they’ll get their 15 minutes of fame. They know they’ll be talked about. No one doubts that. 

If these awful people are going to do these awful things, shouldn’t something good come out of it? Stephen Colbert put it well in part of his monologue on Friday night. 

“These things happen over and over again, and we are naturally horrified and shocked when we hear about them. But then we change nothing, and we pretend that it won’t happen again… I do know that one of the definitions of insanity is changing nothing and then pretending that something will change.”

 

Sam King is a communication sophomore and news editor for The Battalion.

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