Gun Violence and Our Lives


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Something struck me in the aftermath of the Oregon mass shooting on Friday. When the local authorities were reading off details about the victims, they described a man in his early 30’s who had went back to school, and was “finally getting his life together.” It struck me because, well, i’m in my early 30’s. I’m a man. I will probably end up continuing my education some more in the near future. I could have been this guy.

There’s no sense in living in fear of mass shootings, terrorism, or natural disasters, because the odds are low of any of them killing you, but if it happens, you probably won’t be able to forecast it ahead of time. On the other hand, the reason that Jeb Bush takes a “stuff happens” approach to this, or others who want to do nothing take a “so what” attitude is because they don’t see any personal attachment. Most of our public doesn’t either, which explains the intensity gap behind this issue. Of course they only people who take the issue personal enough to care are “gun nuts,” because they are the only people actually impacted by the repercussions of gun control. Most of the public doesn’t see themselves connected to mass shootings, so they aren’t as engaged on the single issue. Hence, the inaction, even on the obvious, easy stuff.

It’s only when we see the connection to ourselves that we will demand action on this, or really any issue. The public isn’t screaming 24/7 for action on climate change, because much of the public doesn’t see how it effects them. The same is true on many other issues, and when the government acts, even on an issue that effects a large minority like access to health insurance, it actually can tend to annoy the majority that aren’t impacted by the issue. Until we see ourselves in the victims of these shootings, or feel it ourselves, i’m skeptical that the public will show the will to push for anything.

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