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Mass Shootings are the New Normal in America

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On October 1, 2017, thousands of fans attending a packed three-day country music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada were terrorized by the rapid throttle of gunfire, a terrifying barrage of bullets shot by a gunman from the third floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, just across the street from the festival grounds. Officials stated that at least 500 people were injured and 58 were gunned down in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. The rapid fire of bullets lasted for nearly 15 minutes. The terror is still raw, the motive undetermined.

Police identified the lone gunman as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, who had barricaded himself in his hotel room with an arsenal of 23 firearms, including guns equipped with bump stocks, making them akin to semi-automatic weapons. 

According to the New York Times, there are, on average, one or more mass shootings every day in the United States. A mass shooting is defined as an incident involving four or more victims who die at the hand of gun violence. 

Massacres from gun violence are devastating, but what’s most upsetting and disturbing is that these occurrences have become far too commonplace. They happen so often in today’s society that we’ve become numb to the consequences—and numb to the news. We very rarely acknowledge the mass shootings that barely make headlines…because there are just so many. And yet, in countries like Singapore, Norway, or Denmark, a death by gunfire is beyond comprehension. The major mass shootings that the American media covers happen approximately every 72 days, an occurrence that has been recorded from 2010 to 2017.

America has experienced two of the largest mass shootings in modern history within a sixteen-month timespan and gun regulations are at a standstill—this despite a bipartisan promise from lawmakers to introduce gun regulation legislation. The laws concerning gun control should have changed years ago—after the Aurora, Colorado shooting spree at a movie theater and again after the horrific Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, where 20 innocent children between the ages of six and seven—and six staff members—lost their lives, or after the Orlando nightclub shooting in 2016, where 49 people were murdered by gunfire. But here we are, and still, nothing has changed. 

Is it becoming a matter of identity? What makes us—”normal” American citizens—different from the people who carry out mass shootings? Nathan Woodward, a history teacher at South high school, stated in a discussion regarding the shooting, “We all experience violent thoughts, but what is it that separates us from those that carry out those violent actions?” That prompts a question that many people haven’t thought about. And it begs another question: As Americans, are we focused more on the weapons than on the actual people who are committing the massacres?

The fact of the matter is that these mass shootings follow certain trends. It’s no secret that minorities are often accused of being the major perpetrators of gun violence, but it’s white males who commit the majority of mass shootings—close to 55% to be exact. Between 1982 and 2017, 51 out of 90 mass shootings were initiated by Caucasians. And yet, minority populations are all too often stereotyped as the culprits. 

Sadly, there’s little hope that gun regulations will change in the future; people are simply too attached to not only their weapons but to the false sense of security that comes along with them. Approximately 40% of homeowners own guns, while only 1.5% actually use these firearms for self-protection, according to a study of 198 cases done in 1994 by Arthur Kellerman, a prominent physician and the dean of the F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine. It’s become too easy to focus our attention on the trends that follow those who feel like initiating these mass shootings is some sort of right of passage. 

Are Americans facing a stalemate in gun control? Will there ever truly be a solution to the ever growing problem, or will we continue to face tragedy after tragedy in the only civilized nation where these atrocities are common occurrences? We can only hope that our elected officials will come to the realization that gun control legislation is needed now more than ever. 

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Student Voice of Denver South High School
Mass Shootings are the New Normal in America