It’s been less than two weeks since the last mass shooting in America- but, you already know that. This time, it was at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California; a bar filled with hundreds of college students having a good time during the country western-themed night. The headline is everywhere. The news is calling it ‘the largest mass shooting in the last two weeks”.
The last two weeks??
I can’t yet decide if that headline says more about the state of the ongoing gun violence epidemic throughout this country, or our sensationalized desire to one up each other on who had the worst mass shooting. Headlines like this are dangerous because it sets the bar disgustingly low. How can we be the land of the free and the home of the brave when we feel imprisoned by fear because of these acts of cowardice? Mass shootings are an act of domestic terror.
I am disgusted that this country cannot escape gun violence. We can’t go to a bar, concert, house of worship, college, elementary/middle/high school, yoga class, or movie theater without the unending fear that we could be gunned down for living our lives. We cannot wait until these mass casualty tragedies hits too close to home for us to care.
By then, it’s already too late.
This country has lost far too many people at the hand of senseless gun violence. One of the first responding officers was shot and killed upon entry to the bar; the shooter had a handgun with an extended magazine. “He died a hero because he went, he went in to save lives, to save other people’s lives,” Sheriff Dean stated in a trembling voice.
The gunman was a former marine who had run ins with law enforcement. As of now, we do not know his motive. Does his motive matter? Will that justify his action? No, because this was an instance of untreated mental sickness, resulting in an act of domestic terrorism that leaves lasting heartache and unanswered questions for the victims and their families. Sadly, the underlying commonality among these domestic terrorists is the easy access to guns, and the difficulty in accessing adequate mental health resources. It’s no secret that when mental health is ignored it leads to drastic situations, especially when guns become such a predominant part of society. The shooter had PTSD, but not enough was done to provide healthy treatment options.
Two days ago, we elected new officials into office. Who is going to be the one to stand up and make steps to get it to stop? We cannot allow ourselves to fall into mindless social media debates over semantics. As a nation, we must take accountability, call it what is and actively look towards and work with officials who seek to break this cycle. The news becomes too painful to watch, leading to an overwhelming sense of numbness which feeds our complacency. If we don’t break the cycle, it won’t be long before the cycle breaks us. Conversations must be had. The time is now. California senator Diane Feinstein issued a statement calling on Republicans to continue the conversation about gun violence and mass shootings. Newly elected California Governor, Gavin Newsom, ordered flags to be at half mast, as well as releasing this statement:
“This atrocious act and the many mass shootings that came before are beyond heartbreaking – they are societal failures. Simply saying ‘enough is enough’ isn’t enough. We must address the root causes of these devastating acts at every level of government.”
Within the last five years, we have seen more ‘mass shooting’ headlines than most countries have seen within the last century. I don’t know what else can be said that hasn’t been demanded after Columbine, Parkland, Sandy Hook, Aurora, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Pulse, San Bernardino and so many others. We cannot let our voices go unheard.
I was outraged then, and I am still outraged now. We must demand legislation and change.
I live in New York, representing the East coast portion of Words Between Coasts.