Mass Shootings and Their Effect On Us

On April 20th, 1999 the most shocking and horrific event in a modern high school took place. Twelve students, one teacher dead. Twenty-four injured. The Columbine High School Massacre was a school shooting that ten years ago we never would’ve forgotten.

In addition to being equipped with numerous guns and magazines of ammunition, the two high school students also brought a fire bomb to divert firefighters, propane tanks converted into bombs which were placed in the cafeteria, and nearly a hundred explosive devices. The two perpetrators were Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, a pair of senior students who attend Columbine High School and had written in their personal journals about carrying out an attack to be remembered for years to come. By the end of the school day, Eric and Dylan had gunned down twelve of their classmates, one of their teachers, and injured twenty one other students before ultimately committing suicide. The massacre not only caused the nation to grieve for months, but also sparked many debates about gun control laws. Subsequently, other topics also started to arise such as high school cliques and cultures, bullying, social outcasts, mental health groups, and violent video games that could cause an individual to perform virtual actions in real life. For the most part, many of these topics were debated to an extent and eventually had laws and enforcements put in place to prevent further instances and hopefully reduce the number of casualties and events of mass shootings.

However, now in June of 2018, this tragic day has been pushed to the back of millions of minds. In part because of the times changing, other significant events, and wounds healing over time, but most importantly because it’s not even on the Top 10 List of Deadliest Mass Shootings. It’s been nearly twenty years since the massacre in Colorado and everyone thought it couldn’t possibly get worse than this and that Columbine was rock bottom. Now here we are in the 21st century with ten shootings even worse and in some cases catastrophic. It seems as if we now live in a day and age where we’ve almost become desensitized in a way because of the constant news of violence that happens every day. Whether we simply don’t care anymore or we’ve given up hope, it seems that a large portion of Americans have given up on the idea of “making America great again” because they’ve become hopeless as a response to the numerous mass shootings we’ve had in 2018 alone. We’re reached a point where the infamous Columbine High School Massacre isn’t even in the Top 10 of Deadliest Mass Shootings. And to make matters worse, three of the top ten mass shootings that are on the list occurred in the past year and a half.

On June 12th, 2016 the 2nd deadliest shooting rocked the world. Omar Mateen, 29, opened fire inside of a gay nightclub called Pulse. Located in Orlando, Omar released round after round on hundreds of unsuspecting guests. He murdered Forty-nine people and injured more than fifty before being shot and killed by police during a hostage negotiation. A triple-digit casualty list and tensions around homosexuals was never combined in such a horrendous mix of chaos and misery. What’s even sadder about the Pulse nightclub shooting is that hardly anybody talks about it anymore and it seems that America is suffering from short-term memory loss in the way that it’s managed to swiftly brush the incident under the rug.

Just over a year after the massacre at Pulse nightclub, was the single most deadliest and catastrophic mass shootings in all of modern history. On October 1st, 2017 Stephen Paddock destroyed the lives of hundreds and thousands of people in Las Vegas in a matter of minutes. The 64-year-old snuck suitcases of weapons and ammunition up to the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. From there he unleashed a hail of bullets into a crowd of more than 20,000 people who were gathered for the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival. In a mere matter of minutes over fifty people lost their lives, more than five-hundred were injured, and countless were left terrified, confused, and devastated. This is the deadliest shooting in modern U.S history. At this point in time, I’m not surprised about the fact there was another mass shooting and I’m not surprised that it keeps getting worse. The one thing I’m surprised or really just perplexed about is the fact that nobody talks about the Las Vegas shooting. There have been no victim updates, no new gun laws, no hint of progress towards a better tomorrow and a better America. Instead I am left with a mixture of confusion and anger as to why and how we, as human beings with the capacity and ability to care, don’t change anything. Over half the people I’ve talked to about this topic have all made it clear that this is not normal. America is suffering from a contagion of mass shootings, but nobody seems to be actually doing something about it. It seems as though instead of us changing the laws, we’ve changed the way we live and accepted the fact that others break the law and that’s just the way life is.

Although we’ve had a countless number of shootings throughout the years, it seems that only the most tragic are the ones we actually hear, see, and read about in the news and in our media-filled lives. Whether this is because of mainstream media, overlooked reports, or simply not having enough time in the day to divulge in the atrocities of our everyday society, we as Americans have become so desensitized by the constant cycle of violence around us that “good days” are days when only one or two people have died. Let that sink in. Our brains have become so overexposed with horrendous, daily crimes and mass shootings that we as a society have become desensitized to any crime without a body count. Minor accidents and incidents without a body count – or even those with a low one – are being completely ignored by even the everyday news channels because there are so many more terrible and tragic things happening that people’s deaths are being ignored. What kind of world do we live in where we literally ignore people’s deaths because there are so many other people dying and we can’t keep track of them all. How long is it until we begin to ignore school shootings such as Columbine where more than ten people are slaughtered, but we’ve become so accustomed to the violence that we don’t even bat an eye.


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