America: This Blood is on Our Hands

Photo by Heather Mount

Shopping centers, movie theaters, elementary schools, places of worship—that’s a shortlist of where you’re no longer safe from being gunned down by someone with an assault rifle in the United States of America.

There have been 253 mass shootings in the U.S. since the beginning of the 2019 — an average of 1.16 per day — according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive (GVA).

GVA defines a mass shooting as a homicide in which four or more people are killed, excluding the shooter.

But some people disagree with this unit of measurement. I guess four deaths aren’t enough. Maybe we shouldn’t start counting until they’ve reached 10? 15? A classroom full of first-graders?

According to Neil deGrasse Tyson, the death toll from this past weekend’s mass shootings pales in comparison to the number of people who die each year from things like medical errors and car accidents, so maybe we’re all overreacting just a bit.

Calm down. It could have been worse.

Many mass shootings take place in schools. Most of those victims aren’t adults, so perhaps we should only count them as half-people? That way we can shrink the numbers and make it more palatable for you.

And besides, what about all those babies being aborted?

Or better yet, if nothing is going to change, why bother adding up the death toll at all?

There’s nothing we can do. Thoughts and prayers. So sad. Anyway, did anyone catch the game this weekend?

Some people prefer to believe their neighborhood is safe from these types of tragedies. People in their community go to church, they say. They raise their kids to read the Bible, respect their elders, and salute the flag.

America isn’t what it used to be. Such a shame.

People posit that maybe those in victimized communities should have disciplined their kids more, or addressed bullying problems in their schools. Prayer in the classroom probably would have nipped that one in the bud, right?

Christians don’t bully anyone. Not in my community.

Some people think it’s absurd to blame the president. They like that Trump, “says it like it is.” And besides, he can’t help it if some crazy takes his words out of context, legally buys a killing machine and mows down a bunch of Mexicans, right?

How can you call Trump a racist? It’s not like he’s putting people in concentration camps. It’s not like he was the one who pulled the trigger. Typical liberal media exaggerating everything.

When a white man commits mass murder, some people like to say it’s because he suffered from a mental illness.

Poor kid probably had schizophrenia. This country has a mental health crisis. Crazy people do crazy things. Let’s pray for them.

Some people blame violence in pop culture. They say it’s desensitized young minds, making kids less empathetic and compassionate.

Filthy rap music. Too many video games.

Some people get mad when others demand stricter gun laws. They’re fond of saying it’s not the guns’ fault.

Guns don’t kill people.

Those people think we have a duty to uphold one specific Amendment guaranteed by our Bill of Rights.

No, not the one that separates church and state, or the one that prevents cops from frisking a person of color without a warrant, or the one that ensures the right to an abortion, of course.

Just the one that says you have a right to bear a high-powered rifle designed for military use. Isn’t that what our forefathers wanted? Semi-automatic rifles in the hands of every citizen?

Background checks are just a slippery slope. You’ll never take my guns.

A few people feel the root of the problem is all the “hate” against white men perpetuated by feminists and people of color.

Toxic masculinity? What happened to men being men? There’s your problem right there — all this gender fluidity. Kids get confused and act out.

Some people feel we shouldn’t call it terrorism. Or white supremacy. Or a hate crime.

Isn’t that all a bit much? Such scary-sounding words. Now you’re starting to sound like CNN.

Of course, lots of other people believe what’s happening is wrong. They’re sickened when the president calls immigrants and asylum seekers drug dealers and rapists. They get angry when their elected officials fail to take action by supporting commonsense gun reform.

Why won’t someone do something? I mean, not me. I’m busy. But someone should.

These people cry when they hear the news about yet another mass shooting. They grieve the losses and trade stories they’ve heard about brave people who died shielding their children, spouses, and total strangers. But they don’t do anything else.

I’m not really a protest kind of person. I like to keep politics off social media. I don’t want to argue with people. This is all just too sad. Let’s talk about something else.

And almost everybody thinks it’s not going to happen to them. Until, you know, it does.

Americans are 25 times more likely to die by firearm homicide than residents in other high-income countries, according to a study published in June.

And those other countries (mostly in Europe and Asia-Pacific) also have people who struggle with mental illnesses. Many of those countries accept immigrants and refugees. They have rap music and video games, too. But you know what they have that we don’t?

Stricter gun laws.

For example, bans on military-style semi-automatic rifles — weapons that aren’t designed for hunting animals or protecting households, but for killing several human beings as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Here’s the thing: much like these other countries, we can stop (or, at least, slow) this carnage.

You can call or write your elected officials and demand they take action. And, if they don’t, you can vote them out. The next time the president makes a racist remark that turns your stomach, you can publicly denounce it and encourage others to do the same.

You can use social media — not to argue with people, but to share information and help organize marches, rallies, and town halls. You can donate to or volunteer with nonprofits like Everytown or Moms Demand Action.

And, perhaps most importantly, you can have honest conversations with your loved ones even (and especially) if it makes them uncomfortable. We should all be uncomfortable because none of this is OK.

As of now, this will happen again. Statistically, it’ll probably happen today, and tomorrow, and the day after that, too. And make no mistake that when it does, America, the blood is on our hands.

Freelance writer, content marketer, mental health advocate, and relentlessly curious human. “I know words. I have the best words.”

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