Thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers are never scarce in a country that averages one mass shooting a day, according to the Congressional Research Service. A mass shooting is considered ‘mass’ when it results in the deaths of four or more people, according to congressional research standards. And now we are faced with the terrors of a school shooting in Florida where a domestic terrorist murdered 17 people and injured 14 others.
The well of thoughtful commentary and witty editorials concerning mass shootings has run dry. Mass murder and society’s insensitivity to it will continue on as it has the past few years. The idea of shootings being normalized in the U.S. is not the result of nihilistic attitudes, but is representative of the inaction that surrounds every mass shooting in modern America.
Florida’s tragedy stood out from other shootings not only because of the body count, but because of how high school students are able to capture the moment as it happens. A school shooting of this magnitude has not struck the hearts of Americans to this degree since the massacre of Columbine High School in 1999 and Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012. However, in both of these cases, the victims were not capable of documenting the sounds of gunshots echoing through the halls.
In the case of the Florida shooting, we see high school students sharing their experiences via social media, and organizing around gun regulation laws as a result of the carnage that befell them and their classmates. Students who are also victims have gone on television, organized a national walk-out day taking up the issue of gun regulation for themselves.
President Donald Trump, in his address of the Florida shooting, used mental health as his scapegoat ensuring Americans that he is, “committed to tackling the difficult issue of mental health.”
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevins says we need to, “have a serious conversation around violent video games and movies” when it comes to gun violence.
Former congressman Joe Walsh blames a lack of faith for mass shootings tweeting that, “America doesn’t have a gun problem, America has a lack of God problem.”
These perspectives on mass shootings are not only insensitive, but easy to deliver when they come from those who are not among the most vulnerable to incidences of gun violence. Additionally, there may be something to be said about American attitudes towards mental health and its correlation with gun violence, but claims based on religion and video games are baseless and detract from the gravity of these massacres.
Young people have been forced to take up the issue of their own safety before many of them are even old enough to vote; because their representatives are more concerned with conversations around everything but the issue that is directly related to gun violence.
In response to the shooting, students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have worked in conjunction with the youth branch of the Women’s March organization to organize a national walk-out day on March 24 where they will leave their classrooms for 17 minutes in protest of the inaction of government officials, according to CBS.
Young people may seem preoccupied with escapism and coping mechanisms on social media, but some are cognizant enough to know they ought to be educated in an environment free of the constant threat of gun violence. Baby Boomer right-wing thought leaders will defend relaxed gun laws for the sake of their own partisan agendas, but they do so at the expense of the America’s children.