News massacres public’s empathy

Treated as impending or inevitable, rather than improbable and implausible, the sheer number of mass shootings in the United States has produced overwhelming numbness in citizens, who in response to the violence, have no response. 

Due to the incomprehensible number of occurrences, gun violence has become increasingly normalized in our nation. As communities, we are unable to mourn the loss of each individual before our nation is forced to embrace the impact of yet another mass shooting. The acceptance of such horrifying incidents is not only harmful to our emotional health, but also detrimental to the call for stricter weapon regulations, as this impassive stance has led to more shootings. Even though we are more aware of the state of our country than ever before, it is that same awareness that is fostering apathy. In this case, awareness is not conducive to change, nor community response, as we brush off the deaths by dissociating from them all together. 

In earlier years, as evident in the murder of 26 teachers and children in the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting of 2012, the nation was swept by protests of all sorts, calling attention to the issue. Americans were enraged and grieving—an appropriate response to the tragedy at hand. In contrast, as the cases began to become more common, there has been an appalling lack of reaction and response to more recent mass shootings, such as the ones in Monterey Park or Half Moon Bay. The pitiful stance our government has taken toward the issue is primarily to blame for our indifference. While we mourn the deaths of members of our community, the national government is more concerned with protecting their political positions by preserving the 2nd Amendment. However, recent events have proven time and time again that the 2nd Amendment is less of a right, and more of a death sentence for many Americans. After decades of government inaction, we have simply come to believe that America’s gun policy is permanent. 

Despite this, the apathy demonstrated toward more recent happenings is alarming. If we, as a community, do not speak up about this issue and advocate for those affected, who will? Believing that mass shootings are an inevitable life experience is damaging our collective mental health and perception of the world. Even as a result of overexposure, passivity toward mass shootings is compliance with violence. 

And who are we to place more value on the death of one person in the context of 14 in comparison to one death in the context of five? All of these losses that our nation accepts submissively are a testament to the detachment we experience towards mass shootings everyday. 

The normalization of something so blatantly abnormal is exceptionally detrimental to our society. It is important to be conscious of how we respond to the stories we hear, in order to be effective in the prevention of future mass shootings.