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When Did Mass Shootings Become the Norm?

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On October 1st of 2017, thousands of country music fans ran for cover and hit the cold, dead ground as bullets showered from a gunman located in a hotel across from the three-day music festival in Las Vegas. Officials stated that at least 500 people were injured and 59 were killed in the most deadly mass shooting in modern American history.

Police identified the lone gunman (terrorist) as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, who was cooped up in his hotel room alongside an estimated 23 total firearms. Before police were able to breach his room and apprehend him, Paddock was said to have committed suicide using one of his many firearms. The onslaught lasted for an approximated 10-15 minutes, with a nonstop barrage of chaos and confusion.

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 at hand to gun violence.

Albeit the events themselves are devastating, what’s most upsetting is that these occurrences have become commonplace, for they happen so often in today’s society that they don’t have the same effect on the public as they used to. We as a society very rarely acknowledge the mass shootings that barely make the cut, while in countries like Singapore, Norway, or Denmark, a shooting of four or more people would realistically make national news. The major mass shootings that American national news do tend to cover happen approximately every 72 days, an occurrence that has been recorded from 2010 to 2017.

America has experienced two of the biggest mass shootings in modern history within a sixteen month timespan and gun regulations have practically ceased to develop. The laws concerning gun control should have changed long ago during the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, where 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7 and 6 staff members lost their lives, or the Orlando nightclub shooting in 2016, where a total of 49 people were killed. But now it’s becoming a matter of identity. What makes us, the normal American citizens, different than 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. So, what separates us from those that carry out those violent actions?” which prompts a question that many people haven’t speculated. Americans have simply focused more of their attention towards the weapons than the actual people.

The fact of the matter is that these mass shootings follow certain trends. White males are the most prominent group when it comes to committing mass shootings. Close to 55% of mass shootings to be exact. It’s no secret that America has built a stereotype that throws minorities into this pool of gun violence, although few people will actually admit that they feel this way. But when one looks up a picture of mass shooters on the internet, more than 75% of the people who pop up on the front images page are white males. Certainly, gun violence within minority communities exists, but very rarely are they the cases that get national recognition. When it comes down to it, many of the cases that gain recognition were initiated by male American citizens that identify as caucasian. Perhaps it’s a concept that should be further studied, for it seems to be overlooked by many.

There’s little hope that gun laws will demonstrate change in the future; people are simply too attached to not only their weapons but to the “safety” factor that comes along with them, even though it’s a false sense of security. Approximately 40% of homeowners own guns, while only 1.5% actually use these firearms in self-protection, according to a study of 198 cases done in 1994 by Arthur Kellerman. In this case, it’s more prominent to focus our attention towards 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 face tragedy after tragedy in the only nation where these atrocities are common occurrences?

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Student Voice of Denver South High School
When Did Mass Shootings Become the Norm?