We have become numb to this.

“There’s been another mass shooting in America,” says President Obama.

The despair in his voice is steeped in weariness.

“We have become numb to this.”

We’ve all seen this movie so many times that we can recite each line, and it is a dialogue for the ages. We became desensitized to the brutality behind these acts of violence long ago. Now the magnitude of each one is akin to a single wave on a tumultuous sea.

For another week or so we’ll see posts about it on Facebook: commemorating victims, praising first responders and calling for action (however unspecified that action might be). Then the names and identities of those lost will be eclipsed by happier news. We’ll enjoy a brief and cautious respite while we await the next tragedy.

College campuses, high schools and even elementary schools have become hunting grounds for disturbed, disgruntled young men who believe they’re entitled to the respect, understanding or admiration of their peers. They’ve been allowed to incubate dangerous, dysfunctional beliefs about society, about women, and about their own importance, while those around them live in fear or denial. They come from mostly privileged or seemingly normal family backgrounds, and should have been forced into seeking help (or into the hands of the law) by more responsible parties. Instead, almost all have used legal guns to commit awful crimes, purchased with ease by themselves or their family members.

So few of us are equipped emotionally or otherwise to own deadly weapons, and these deluded young men are no exception. So why is it that someone with absolutely no business owning a gun should have the right to one?

“This has become routine.” This is our routine, and it appears we’re uninterested in changing it.

We may never know the depths of another person’s misanthropy or rage, or the depths of their pain and suffering. Surely these individuals missed out on some opportunity for compassion and understanding in life, and it led them down a path of destruction. But we can’t be expected to pay for the misfortunes the world has wrought against them, and we shouldn’t be giving them the opportunity to voice their frustrations through a hail of bullets on a college campus.

A gun is not a toy, nor is it a charming tradition. Having one is not an exercise in freedom, especially when it comes at the expense of the rights of others to truly live freely. So let’s stop dancing around semantics and identify guns for what they are: instruments of violence, and nothing more. The responsibility of owning one should be viewed as the ultimate shackle, and anyone who takes it on deserves to feel its full weight upon them.


One thought on “We have become numb to this.

  1. Guns are half the problem. Disturbed, socially isolated young men is the other half. Decades ago some of these people would have been committed to mental hospitals. It’s almost impossible to do that now. There are few such places anymore, and as author Pete Earley has written about so well, getting someone committed against their will has become massively difficult.

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