The tragedy of the Las Vegas shooting is devastating. As I survey the news, I’ve noticed that the same headlines and talking points pop up after these kinds of incidences. They bear listing, for the sake of understanding the big picture and the problems we face in attempting to turn around this particular, unique tide of violence .
The very first thing that comes up with each mass shooting is the argument of gun control. Whether the timing is right or not, it’s natural human behavior to witness this kind of act and think “Can we do something about this?” The Onion has gotten cheeky (cynical??) in its reaction, using the same headline and article the past five mass shootings, just switching out the picture and a few details to reflect the current horrendous mess. But more serious news articles abound with statistics demonstrating how the US compares to other nations whose restrictions on gun ownership means no one has guns, therefore the amount of deaths attributed to guns in those nations is much lower than what we experience in ours. There are discussions about the inability to track gun deaths and violence in the US due to effective lobbying by the NRA. There’s the opposing loud and proud call to retain the 2nd Amendment in it’s purity, forgetting the phrase ‘well regulated’, and including pat responses such as ‘This is the price we pay for being a free country’.
A more recent talking point that comes up at a time like this is the attention drawn to the fact that in the US, we are more likely to be struck down by one of our own than from a sworn enemy such as an ISIS operative. This is definitely something to consider as we muddle through court cases arguing about the constitutionality of travel bans from specific countries.
Another common thread I’ve surveyed among news stories is the idea of the public obsession with the shooter and copycat behavior. According to the FBI, this is a serious component to furthering our already violent nation into more violence. It’s normal to long for an understanding as to how someone could be so callous as to murder their fellow primates. Part of that process means discussing their habits, their background, their final moments. While the media provides these details to us, the disastrous cyclical effect it produces means we may want to re-think how we handle these circumstances in the future.
Finally, we are so anxious for news in the wake of these tragedies that we seize onto the first few stories that come out of the wreckage, often based on piecemeal details that are difficult to scrub clean in the investigative aftermath. When the dust settles, when the investigation is complete, those initial stories are usually amended to include the findings of police and others. However, those late arriving details are lost in the belief of whatever is read first while in the throes of shock. ISIS has claimed responsibility for this attack, we won’t know if that’s true until computer records are gleaned, but the damage is already done. While anything is possible, it’s not probable that this is ISIS inspired, and a small contingency will believe so anyway even if the investigative outcome reveals no connection. It behooves us to wait until we have more facts before jumping to conclusions because those reactive stories are often adjusted to reflect a more realistic picture and understanding.
There aren’t words to describe the depth of despair these kinds of tragedies incur on our national population: We are literally killing ourselves at an alarming rate. The probability that it will happen again, soon, is depressingly high. Yet as we survey emotions and news headlines each time, we notice that the same issues continue to raise their ugly heads, as well as ways to deal with them.
Maybe, one day, we will become wise enough to challenge ourselves to change.
Peace, and much strength and grace to the families of those who died in Las Vegas.
NB: Some of the links I use in this article are a couple of years old, yet quite relevant still. I purposefully chose them to illustrate my point: the same issues keep cropping up in situations such as this.