History of Gun Violence in America: Mass Shootings, the NRA and Our National Shame
When I decided the History of Gun Violence in the United States was going to be my topic for this editorial I faced a conundrum on where I should begin? The wild west and its anti-heroes such as: Billy the Kid, Jesse James, etc, or something along the lines of the Al Capone styled mob violence of the roaring twenties? Since I usually attempt to keep these pieces as current, and more in tuned with modern times as possible, I came to the conclusion that since much of what I’ll be focusing on will be the scourge of Mass Shootings. So what more infamously memorable event would I start this piece with than the Columbine Colorado School massacre, which happened on April 20th, 1999 ( date courtesy of brittanica.com).
I remember that date well, personally, I was a Freshman in High School and at the time 4/20, was a day that was and still is celebrated amongst marijuana enthusiastists. The video footage that is engraved in my memory from that most horrifying day in American History, was students, much like I was at that time, running out of the exits of their high school as if the building was on fire. But much to the dismay and horror to anyone who was there or watching on news stations all over the world, it wasn’t a four alarm fire those children were sprinting away from. It was two of their fellow students, Dylan Cliebold and Eric Harris, packed to the brim with assault rifles and other firearms slaughtering their peers, one by one, without prejudice. In the early days of the mass shooting phenomenon no one in the mainstream media or highest levels of government knew just who or what to blame the growing, popularizing of the mass murder genre on. Marilyn Manson, Eminem and violent video games were some of the earliest scapegoats and excuses, rather than the more obvious idioms which were: Easily accessible firearms, lack of parental interaction with their socially wayward, angst ridden children and the most likely reason being; undiagnosed mental illness or personality disorder.
One of the more heartbreaking, reprehensible instances of a mass shooting happened on, December 12th 2012(date courtesy of history.com). Deranged teenager and social outcast, Adam Lanza, who received an AR-15 assault rifle as an early Christmas gift from his cluelessly indifferent mother. Adam Lanza would use that gift to murder 27 people that day, the first victim being that same mother who purchased her mentally disturbed son that rifle. He would eventually enter his old elementary school and gun down 26 more souls, including 20 children as young as 6 years old ( courtesy of abcnews.com).
The mass shootings in America have become more or less a regular occurrence and within law enforcement and media circles that fact has actually made the notorious phenomena become seemingly not as previously important. Many of you reading, the place names: Aurora, Colorado, San Bernardino, California, Orlando, Florida and of course the two we’ve previously mentioned; Columbine, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut are engraved in most anyone’s memory when thinking of mass killings fields ( info courtesy of Brookings.edu). Movie theaters, an elementary school, high school and a LGBT night club were the locales these shootings happened. Still, as times gone on, and our society as a whole have become almost immune to the mass shootings I dare some of you to recognize the place names of: Mayfield, Kentucky, Meridan, Mississippi Atkins, Arkansas and Bridgeport, Connecticut. Those were four of the deadliest mass shootings of 2020, 17 dead total and contrary to the prior murder locations I believe many of you have never heard of these places and especially why these shootings happened ( courtesy of MSNBC.com). Sadly it seems this country is so traumatized, divided, and reticent on the issue of gun violence that US civilians have developed mass shooting fatigue. The fact national news programs don’t even mention a mass shooting unless the death toll isn’t high enough certainly is helping bury the issue.
Where this national scourge goes from here is a difficult question to tackle? The NRA which made the most of these mass shootings by showing up to the town where one just took place and used the murder of innocents as an advertising opportunity. Especially after some of the earlier cases, showing up with Charlton Heston in tow, to remind victims and gun nuts alike that the 2nd Amendment is absolute. These gun enthusiastists have no respect and lost any human empathy behind a sniper scope. I didnt mention the NRA earlier mostly due to the fact the NRA currently is in a state of disrepair (thankfully). Former NRA mouthpiece and soulless beast Wayne Lapierre has been removed as the groups spokesmen. Charges of bribery, fraud and money laundering helped get him ousted from his position, consequently the NRA’s former long reaching media arm has been weakened considerably.
One can only hope as a new, younger, progressive generation becomes more influential, the fact of gun violence and lack of restrictions hopefully will come to the forefront. Perhaps with enough voices of dissent, especially from gun violence victims but more importantly politicians, laws can be amended, bills can be passed through the US capitol to at least, eliminate the sale of automatic weapons, strengthen background checks, so mentally ill, and lifelong criminals can not so easily obtain a firearm. The lives of everyone, everywhere, in the United States depend on it.
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