On Saturday, Aug. 31, a gunman committed another mass shooting in West Texas. He killed seven and injured 25. The motive is not yet known, but there have been reports of the shooter spiraling for some time, which came to a head when he was fired from his job that day.
However, the motive and whatever issues the shooter was dealing with are not as important as much as the fact that seven more innocent people are dead. There was no way for these people to predict that they would join the mountains of victims of gun violence in the United States.
That’s not to say that gun reform laws alone would have prevented this situation. The monster who committed this act obtained a gun via an unregulated private sale, after failing a background check. At the same time, it is questionable what more guns would have been able to do about this. It took an hour for police to kill the perpetrator after he spent an hour driving on a killing rampage. This was an uncommon act.
At the same time, this tragedy its fallout are evident of what has become all-too-common in our culture. We have become too comfortable with guns in our society, dictating our lives and anxieties. And worst of all, it seems that guns are now an inescapable part of America.
This doesn’t have to be the case. In other countries, this is not the case. I don’t care how different and special America is; there is no reason that the proliferation of guns should be as normalized here as it is. There is no justification or repayment for the families that have had their loved ones injured or killed. There is no excuse for the fear that now proliferates the public.
Following the El Paso Walmart shooting less than a month ago, there were rumors of a would-be shooter arrested in Connecticut for threatening to repeat that Texas incident here. He claimed to have accomplices going to other Walmarts in the state to do the same. Of course, this never materialized, but the spread of such a rumor is evident of the fragile condition of our country’s people. We shouldn’t have to be afraid of going to schools, or stores, or festivals, but now we are. That is a problem.
Some, including Daily Campus writer Kevin Catapano, will throw up their hands at events like this and call the tragedy “wholly unpreventable.” Maybe if you consider the United States at this current day, in this current political and cultural climate, that is true. But if we live in a country where a mass shooting is considered unpreventable, then there is a bigger problem with the way we view guns.
We all have failed these seven people who lost their lives, and we all have failed all the victims of mass shootings before them. If our government and people truly cared at all about the problem, this could have been prevented. Or, if this was truly unpreventable, then we would all be paying for the medical bills, funerals and other expenses for the victims and their families. If we did that, though, our country would go as bankrupt financially as we already are morally.
We need to hold ourselves and our representatives more accountable for the loss of life all this inaction has caused. It is our culture that caused this. We have assumed that guns are entwined with the fabric of our society. Now, we don’t get to act surprised when the consequences of that come to life.
When a proposed solution to school shootings is to militarize schools, we have already lost. We have already failed at approaching the problem with any reason. We need to demilitarize the police and de-escalate the populace. We need to take down the gun culture of America.
I will concede that a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun, at least after that bad guy has already killed a dozen other good guys. But this doesn’t even allow for the discussion of why we have so many bad guys with guns in the first place. Maybe, after 283 mass shootings this year, we can finally get down to solving that fundamental question.
Peter Fenteany is the associate opinion editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.