I was inspired by watching captnclare's testimonial about the shooting massacre they had in the 90s in Australia and I wanted to get my own thoughts out about gun violence and policy in America.
My Junior year of high school, my mom took my best friend and I to Disney World for Spring break. It was April 1999. I remember we came back from a morning at the park to have a rest in our hotel room before going back out for the evening. We turned on the hotel room TV and instead of finding the usual weekday afternoon talk shows or soap operas, we found news coverage - the same on every channel. They were reporting on a mass shooting incident at a high school in Columbine, Colorado.
There was so much coverage and footage of the incident that I've seen since the initial breaking story, that I don't quite remember what footage they were showing at the time (probably those aerial shots of scared students outside the school that the press loves so much). But what I can't forget is the feeling of watching this terrible event unfolding on a TV while in "the happiest place on earth." It was absolutely surreal and, similar to 9/11, something I will never forget. These were kids, teenagers my own age killing other kids my own age. I remember my mom being so thankful we were on Spring break that week, that she wouldn't have to worry about sending me off to school the next day.
But the incident and worry followed us around Disney that week and it followed us home.
We had a "copy-cat" like incident at my school a month or so later. A day before our Junior Prom, someone wrote on a stall in the boy's bathroom something equating to "Death to all jocks!" School was cancelled the next day and our prom had armed policemen at it. Policemen with guns at the prom of a somewhat rural, middle-class high school where major crimes rarely even happened in the town, nevermind at the school. To say it was jarring to us, was an understatement. As a child who grew up with parents who didn't like guns, a father who barely hunted his entire life, even seeing a gun in person was a rarity for me. I couldn't keep thinking (and still think today), how easy it would be for the person carrying the gun (even a policeman, someone who's supposed to be trusted and in control), how easy it would be for them to just take it out and shoot someone. What was stopping them? That power scared me.
The bathroom note was probably nothing more than someone trying to get a day off school (and to this day, knock on wood, there has yet to be a violent incident at my high school), but we now lived in the post-Columbine world, where such threats had to be taken seriously. Where it didn't matter if you lived in Leave it to Beaver suburbia or the inner city, gun violence could find you.
Fifteen years later and Columbine is still making the news. Every time a mass shooting happens at a mall, at someone's work place, at the movies, or at another school, people bring it up. We hear the same outrage and arguments and see the same footage and pictures over and over. Someone probably talks to Michael Moore, the NRA gives a statement, President Obama talks about how guns laws have to change, people start hoarding their gun stash just in case the laws do change. But what's really changed? I think the only thing is that the rate of these incidents have gone up so much that we're almost becomming desensitized to their occurance. According to http://shootingtracker.com (which, let's all take a moment to let it sink in that that is a website that exists and serves a purpose), there have already been 134 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2014 and it's only June. The majority of these incidents don't even make national news. And what of the ones that have? Newtown, CT is only an hour and a half away from me. I still see some local news coverage of their community since 20 six- and seven-year-olds and six adults were gunned down by one angry, mentally ill man, but in 2013, only a mere year after the devastating incident that made national and international headlines, Congress had made barely any strides at enacting stricter gun control laws (and don't get me started on the way we deal with mental health in this country).
I get that this is 'Murica! and we have the right to "bear arms" and we like to guard our rights come hell or high water. I get that some people are extremely responsible gun owners - hunters for sport, farmers who need to protect their livestock, people in inner cities who need to feel like they can protect their families. But I think there has to be a way for those people to get what they need and for the rest of the public to be safe from the rampant gun violence that seems to be plaguing our country in a way that doesn't plague other nations similar to ours.
I don't know what the solution is. All I know is that if we reacted in this country to Columbine the way we did to 9/11 (airport security in this country has become almost commically strict), things might be a lot different.
I'm an idiot and noticed afterward I was saying "copywritten" instead of "copyrighted." Grr. Grammar. :P
Do you see a fucking cat?!
Man, I hope so. Or else you really need to get your eyes checked. ;)