We seem to have entered a time of a new normal:
- It is now normal to hear news of many people being shot by a gunman. Theaters, schools, gas stations, churches. Anywhere is fair game.
- It is now normal for the media to send a reporter to the scene to get the emotional reaction from police officers, mayors, citizens, etc.
- It is now normal to have politicians express sadness and dismay that yet more lives have been taken senselessly. Platitudes abound.
- It is now normal for folk on the conservative end to advocate for more people having more guns because they could better defend themselves.
- It is now normal for folk on the progressive end to advocate for at least some control of the type of weapon and ammunition that can be purchased by citizens.
- It is now normal for those two groups to claim the other side is politicizing the issue while taking the Constitution in general and the Second Amendment specifically out of context.
- It is now normal for a couple days to pass, raise the flags back to the top of flagpoles and go back to living our lives.
- It is now normal to repeat the whole ridiculous process a week or so later when the next shooting happens.
If this is the new normal, I fucking hate it. I despise it. And it makes no sense to me how we have come to this. But I make my Facebook comments and tweet my frustrations. Why? Because it is the new normal. And it fucking sucks. Are we supposed to accept this kind of atrocity as the “price of freedom”? As part of “American Exceptionalism”? I am afraid of the answer.
I consider myself to be a pretty intelligent person, but I do not have a magic wand that will make this better overnight. I completely agree with my friends on the right that the underlying issue of how we treat each other as human beings is the root of any violent act, not the instrument used in the act. It is not possible to hold a gun for adjudication or pronounce a sentence against a bullet. I also agree with my friends on the left who advocate for a stronger mental health system that is integrated with a comprehensive background check process for obtaining a firearm. While federally licensed dealers must conduct a background check (including those who operate at gun shows), as of September 2015, 33 of our 50 states do not restrict private sales of firearms (including private sellers that operate at gun shows).
I woke up this morning to news of yet another fatal shooting on a school campus, this time Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. What truly horrified me was my initial thought: “At least there was only one person killed.” As if that person’s family will not forever be changed by what happened. As if the loss of one life is somehow mitigated by the fact it wasn’t six (Tucson, Arizona), or nine (Umpqua Community College and Charleston) or 12 (Aurora, Colorado) or 13 (Columbine) or 27 (Sandy Hook) or 32 (Virginia Tech). But I doubt I was the only person with that thought this morning.
If this is what it is like to be normal now, I want no part of it. I refuse to accept that we cannot better ourselves as a society through a reasonable course of compromise and an honest admittance of our flaws. American exceptionalism be damned.