In the face of tragedy the American people react to the gun violence epidemic

In the face of tragedy the American people react to the gun violence epidemic

Photo courtesy of Google Images

With over 310 million gun owners in America, the issue of gun violence has become an extremely popular debate.  Due to the recent shooting at the Los Angeles International Airport that involved CHS’ Technical Director Brian Ludmer, this controversial issue now directly impacts the Calabasas community.  With all the exposure of this issue, people are wondering if whether the nation has become desensitized or if it has created the need for a gun reform revolution.

According to the Independent Journal Review, the United States holds the highest amount of firearms per person in the world with 88.8 percent of its citizens owning a gun.  This number has been on the rise since the major school shooting at Columbine High School in 1999.  When Columbine students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold arrived at school the morning of April 20, they opened fire on the students and faculty members, ultimately killing 15 people, themselves included, and injuring 21 others.  In the past 15 years, shootings similar to Columbine have occurred all throughout the U.S.  Shootings such as the one in Aurora, Colorado, where 12 people were killed and another 70 were injured in a local movie theater, are becoming more frequent.  Incidences similar to what happened in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, in which 28 faculty members and students were shot and killed and two others were injured in the process have been increasing at a rapid rate.

However, these are only a small portion of the countless shootings that occur in the U.S. every year.  With all the publicity the media is giving to the increase in gun violence, people have begun a heated debate over whether or not Americans have begun to accept gun violence as the norm.


A positive outlook on a negative situation

In recent years, an excessive number of people have lost family members and friends to the frequent mass shootings in America.  American citizens that once awoke feeling content and safe in their surroundings now come home at night afraid to fall asleep.  Loved ones are lost and people’s lives are altered forever because of the loss of innocent lives to a person with a gun.  However, as horrid as these mass shootings are, they have also helped the better qualities of mankind shine through as communities come together to rally and to advocate against gun violence.  They also inspire more education about the dangers of assault weapons and encourage society to fight for a significant change for our country’s future.

As news of more shootings spreads, Americans are more frequently joining together to rally and fight against gun violence.  When people lose their loved ones in shootings, they are personally affected by the loss.  These tragedies inspire people to support one another to offer their help by sending donations and care packages to victims.  People are realizing that they are not alone in the grief caused by gun violence and that many people are going through the same pain.  While support for one another should be an obvious concept, the world has had to witness numerous mass shootings to realize that fighting for safety is crucial to society, and the fight cannot be done alone.

“When watching the news after a mass shooting [has] occurred, the only thing I find redeeming is how much communities come together,” said junior Sabrina Silberman.  “People truly realize how much a little help can go such a long way.”

Americans are also realizing that one of the best ways to prevent shootings is through education.  Many schools now discuss the issues of assault weapons, specifically semi-automatic and automatic weapons, and how our country can come together to prevent these calamities.  By educating people at a young age and informing them of the dangers of guns, educators are creating an environment in which everyone has a better understanding of gun violence.  With this knowledge, people will start to realize how they can make a difference in the future.

The shootings that have occurred nationwide have helped open the eyes of Americans.  This country is filled with a diverse population of people with a variety of beliefs, whom have joined together and agreed that they must act to end the incredulous amounts of casualties caused by mass shootings.

“The only way things in our country are going to change is if we come together to prevent mass shootings,” said junior Lacey Finkelstein.  “The way our country works to prevent mass shootings does not matter as long as we continue to fight for something to be done.”

Throughout the CHS community, we have experienced the effects of gun violence on a personal level.  After the shooting at LAX Airport in which CHS Technical Director and Stagecraft teacher Brian Ludmer was shot, the community joined together to rally against gun violence.  People sent donations and heartwarming cards to Ludmer and his family.  When somebody is personally influenced by a shooting, the tragic stories heard on the news are a reality and  the situation is amplified to a new level.  At times our country seems unsympathetic, but even then, events such as this happen and encourage us to come together as one.

Although the massive amounts of shootings are devastating, they are bringing both global and local communities closer together in a positive way.  With the use of education and awareness, the country is moving toward eliminating gun violence.


Constant shootings desensitize Americans

Columbine used to represent the horrible tragedies of mass shootings. “Remember Columbine,” one could say to another, and people would nod and drop their gaze, thinking of students rushing out of that school building and the anguish on their faces.  However, now the shootings have reached Tucson, Newtown, the Navy Yard, the Los Angeles Airport and in other countries such as Pakistan and Kenya.  There have been countless shootings over the past few decades, causing our generation to view them as typical, inevitable occurrences.  Social media does not miss a beat when a new tragedy happens and the excessive coverage of these stories is numbing society and influencing potential mass killers.  Due to rising numbers of shootings, individuals may begin to think twice before going out to a simple movie or traveling through an airport.

For much of the 20th century, there were, on average, a handful of mass killings each decade.  According to a recent Mother Jones survey, in the U.S. alone, there have been at least 62 mass shootings in the past three decades, with 24 in the last seven years.  That number spiked in 1980, and continued to rise thereafter.  After six mass shootings during his term in office, President Obama stated that he is worried Americans are coming to believe that death at the hands of mass shooters is a fact of life.  Families and friends across the nation constantly grieve for their losses and anti-gun rallies and talk of the latest shootings are becoming routine.  Tragic mass shootings have become the norm.

“Gun de-sensitivity is slowly becoming more normal because the media attracts the wrong kind of attention to the shooters,” said senior Sarah Smith.  “People are beginning to not take shootings so seriously anymore.”

The idea that one violent rampage might inspire another has given rise to plenty of articles and debates on whether the press should be more conscientious regarding its style of reporting.  Individuals are becoming too accustomed to these news reports as they are slowly becoming standard.  Also, giving a murderer excessive publicity makes him or her too famous in the eyes of the viewers.  According to social scientist David Phillips, highly publicized stories of deviant and dangerous behavior influences copycat incidents.  Starting a news cast with sirens blaring, sharing photographs of the killer, naming the killer as some kind of infamous villain and running the story 24/7 will only encourage future mass murderers who crave attention.  The media overly exploits these killers, no matter how negative the publicity.

These constant mass killings are starting to make people think twice about going out in public.  No one expected a shooter to strike in a movie theater or the Boston marathon, but they did.  There is no limit as to where and when these shootings can strike.  The tragedies are putting people on edge in some of the most cheerful places, which is corrupting individuals’ views on whether they are safe or not.

There are several causes to these frequent mass murders and many place the primary blame on the accessibility of guns.  There is no doubt that guns are the weapons of choice for these mass murderers.  However, in many parts of our nation, guns are always readily available without the issue of mass shootings.  In the 19th century, there were standards that guided how violence was depicted in the media.  There was no excessive media coverage and as a result, mass killings were not presented in a way that would inspire imitation.  Unfortunately, due to the distortion of media and regularity of mass killings, populations are accustomed to the new “norm” which is a country full of attention-craving killers that are influenced by the easy access to weapons and lack of personal acceptance.