Opinion

“After the weekend’s mass shootings, how much more catastrophic does America’s rock bottom have to be?”

This weekend saw three mass shootings take place in America, when 31 people tragically lost their lives in El Paso Texas, Dayton, Ohio and Chicago, Illinois. Here American journalist Alicia Lutes questions how many lives need to be taken before gun control laws are finally tightened

This was supposed to be an entirely different story from me this week. One that, in the wake of the weekend’s mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio and Chicago, Illinois, now feels flippant. But that is not this story, not after the latest trauma inflicted upon more communities, forever changed by the carnage to which too many were witness. Or worse, did not survive. But this isn’t anything new, nor is pointing out the repetitive nature of the cycle we as Americans have found ourselves in.

A shooting happens—statistically speaking, mostly by white men. We all cry out, and the people in power send their thoughts and prayers. We call them out across all fronts, highlighting their hypocrisy and bad faith and inaction and incorrect assessments, and every single word of it goes ignored. Wash, rinse, repeat. Nothing changes and we, in our need for just a teensy bit of sanity in an exhausting, non-stop slog of a world, grow a little bit more detached from all the hate and violence.

Nothing ever changes. We yell, nothing changes. We speak politely, nothing changes. We show data, nothing changes. We call out the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans want gun reform and nothing changes. We note that so much of the madness of this fight comes down to the power that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has on the issue, as well as his long history of blocking and filibustering gun control legislation. Nothing happens. 

US mass shootings vigil
US mass shootings: people leave flowers for the victims of the three shootings in Ohio, Texas and Chicago.

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So many of us are so tired of being so mad and gun control is not only a major issue, it’s such a representative one, especially for millennials. We came of age when the Twin Towers fell on 9/11, graduated into adulthood during the 2008 recession saddled with debt, and have seen virtually no progress on any of the issues stemming from any of that. Instead, we hear how we’re “killing” businesses and industries and not doing enough with what virtually non-existent power we do have, while the people with a chokehold on the stuff twiddle their thumbs and get rich off the divisions and dissatisfactions they sow between the rest of us. We are the creators of all of our own problems, and they can’t do anything about it, they posit—too busy stuffing their pockets with money from gun lobbyists.

Instead the people with the power in the gun control discussion constantly tell us that the problem is not the guns, it’s that there aren’t guns. Or maybe it’s mental illness, or video games, or movies, or TV, or the news, or maybe it’s the illegal immigrants or some Muslims or refugees. Or maybe it’s “I guess we’ll never know” (that is usually code for “white supremacist terrorism” but I digress). No matter that these none of these assertions are supported by the facts. It’s so indicative of the gaslighting we’ve experienced as a nation for years on this issue. It’s bullshit. Sorry, but that language feels warranted right now. Doesn’t it to you?

Even presidential candidates are at the point of the profane. “What do you think? You know the shit he’s been saying,” Democratic hopeful Beto O’Rourke explained to the press on Sunday evening when asked what the president could do, or has done, to address - or exacerbate - America’s domestic terrorism problem. “He’s been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. I don’t know, like, members of the press, what the fuck?” O’Rourke later stood by his statement later on Twitter. No amount of yelling done or words written or tears cried or money sent or protests had or children killed seems to make a difference anymore. And it’s why it’s so frustrating to try and write or say anything about any of this right now—my voice has already been discounted by the ones with all the control. 

Dayton Ohio shootings, residents of Dayton come out in support of victims
Ohio shootings: residents of Dayton show their strength and solidarity in the face of terrorism.

I want to believe there’s something I can say, or think, or believe, or do, that could change this. I want to believe that the strength the communities across America have can somehow overcome this in some heroically David vs. Goliathian style that they’ll later make Oscar-winning pictures about in the future. It’s naive but it also feels like it’s all we have left: some big, grand, unlikely gesture ruminating behind the scenes. Logic hasn’t worked. The sheer amount of deaths hasn’t worked. Tears, rage, children crying out to be allowed a future. Nothing has worked and it’s exhausting to be this mad all the time when the Americans not working in Washington, DC all agree: enough is e-fucking-nough already.

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The American gun discourse is completely toxic, and maddening to boot. But we can’t detach ourselves from how bad all of this really is. We have to stay mad and stay vigilant, but how do we sustain? Every public space feels a little less safe with every passing day, and the man in charge of the country took $30 million from the NRA during his presidential campaign and is actively weakening gun laws, not strengthening them. If our future rests on the whims of this man and those around him, we’re in for this cycle for infinity—or until every single last American is dead or a mass murderer. Sure it’s hyperbole, but doesn’t everything about this situation feel heightened? How much more catastrophic does our rock bottom have to be?

El Paso mass shootings banner
US mass shootings: once again America is outraged by the latest shootings, but when will this lead to gun reform in America?

You were supposed to get an entirely different story—as were so many of the thousands of Americans killed by mass shootings. It’s maddening those still alive are spineless, or worse: actively working against saving more of our futures.

Action needs to be taken, before it’s too late.

Images: Getty

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