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No, it wasn’t ‘just another shooting’

We’ve all seen the headlines. We all get the notifications. Whether it’s eight killed in Indianapolis, six in Rock Hill, SC or four injured just over in Dayton, mass shootings are an everyday occurrence in this country.

In fact, they’re more than every day. There have been 126 mass shootings in the United States this year as of April 25, and only 115 days have passed in 2021.

I’d bet good money that you haven’t heard of more than a half dozen of them this year. Only the ones with the big headlines, right? The shootings where many were murdered, like in Atlanta or Boulder.

We’ve gotten so desensitized to gun violence that one death in San Diego isn’t worth a major national headline. Five injured on Bourbon Street in New Orleans doesn’t show up anywhere but deep in my Twitter explore page.

It felt normal this past Saturday to hear my friends talk about a gun being pulled in an Uptown bar, while at the same time I was texting my friend at Tulane to make sure she’s still alive, then forgetting about it once I got the text back.

Is this normal? Are we supposed to think this is okay? That this is the inevitable result of having the gun rights we’re told we deserve? It’s certainly what the political right wants.

The same people that want to strip womens’ rights away while preaching about the “value of a human life” bat their eyes when Americans are murdered in the streets because of their precious Second Amendment.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

An amendment so grossly misinterpreted that the phrase “a well regulated militia” doesn’t show up on any Republican party or gun rights activist platform. I happen to remember an inalienable right to life that never seems to come up when people are gunned down in the streets every day.

We need to stop looking at gun violence like it’s normal, or like it’s the price we must pay for an arcane right that simply appeases people who think guns are cool.

Every time a gun is fired, we need to talk about who was harmed, or killed. We need to stop looking at death as another statistic like we all have slipped into doing so often because it’s easier for us to look at this violence in the abstract.

We can’t wait for the next person murdered to be one of our peers, our friends, our family. If we all wait to speak out or care until it becomes personal, it’ll be too late.

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Whenever an American is murdered, we have to take it personally. We have to realize that it could just as easily have been one of us making up the 148 people dead this year, alone. It could’ve been you or me that builds up that number, only to be forgotten the next day after another shooting has happened.

Maybe I’m the only one who’s getting scared to go out to places anymore. After weeks straight of daily shooting notifications as I wake up, going outside, even in a small town in southwest Ohio, doesn’t guarantee our safety. But we all should understand that fear is not without base.

It’s way past due that we make gun violence a major political priority in the US. And I don’t mean getting another statement invoking “thoughts and prayers.” 

Let’s finally elect people to Congress who actually care about the life of every single American. People who have the courage to do the right thing despite the millions of Americans who like to put guns on their wall because they believe it to be one of their God-given rights.

If we don’t, more people will be shot. More people will be killed. More families will lose a loved one and the world will lose more souls to unnecessary violence. If we don’t, the group of 629 people who have been a victim of mass shootings this year will continue to grow.

I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but it feels like every time a shooting happens, it gets closer to us. From the FedEx under two hours away in Indianapolis, to an hour away in Dayton and even the three dead just 37 miles away in Cincinnati.

I can’t help but wonder, are we next?