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Mass shootings are the new normal

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Students in America are applying for stickers giving permission to exhibit their dead body in the event of a shooting (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

In the wake of two mass shootings within 24 hours, digital editor Dan Jensen reflects on a time when these events weren't just another headline.

I CAN REMEMBER a time when mass shootings were shocking. Those times when someone would enter a public place with a firearm and indiscriminately murder innocent bystanders and hearing about it gave you that numb feeling inside, like something truly evil had just unfolded. Now, even though the tragedy of mass shootings is no less significant, the shock factor has worn away to the point where it’s just another news story.

Recently, I read about a trending hashtag called #MyLastShot, in which children in the USA were imploring people to publicly show a photo of their murdered body in order to shock people back into some sense of wanting gun control. That was something that hit me hard. This is the world we live in now — where children are afraid to go to school, the movies, a concert or anywhere in public for fear of being killed by a lunatic gunman. (And yes, I use the term “gunman” because it seems to be a male-dominated activity.) This is the new normal.

It completely baffles me that the politicians of America, most notably President Trump, can’t see that things are far beyond the point of being out of control. I get it — the NRA has the White House in their grasp and as long as Trump keeps sending those thoughts and prayers, everything will be okay. But how much does the world have to take before enough is enough? And yes, I realise this is largely an American problem, but it still affects all of us around the world, that our own human race can turn on one another in such a violent way. It’s like America has become a troubled relative in need of a serious intervention.

With the recent shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, a restaurant manager was quoted as saying “You see on the news all the time, but you don''t think it could happen here until it does”. While it’s nice to know that some people in the USA still feel safe, albeit rather naively, I think we’ve reached a point now where it’s a tad foolish to think anyone is immune to such a dreadful event. Even here in Australia, we’ve been grateful for strict gun control and lapsed into a sense of feeling safe from such atrocities, until one of our own went and murdered innocent people in Christchurch with guns.

It makes me sad that I don’t feel shocked by mass shootings anymore. I remember when the Columbine massacre happened and it sent a shockwave around the world. People were asking how it could possibly happen. Bands and movies and video games were being blamed for it. Suddenly, everyone had to arm themselves to the teeth out of panic. Seeing the CCTV footage of the two killers was chilling and deeply disturbing. But since then, we’ve become desensitised to this sort of thing, which is one of the saddest reflections of ourselves in terms of how we’ve grown as a society.

Within 24 hours of the El Paso massacre, another shooting occurred in Dayton, Ohio in which nine people were killed. How long is it going to be before news of a mass shooting breaks out while another one is taking place? As ridiculous as that sounds, we are reaching that point.

What can we do? It seems there is nothing that can be done and, quite frankly, I think it’s true. If the leader of the most powerful nation in the free world refuses to do anything, then it’s a safe bet that we just need to keep going on the way we are, seeing if anyone can beat the kill count of the last guy to do it and waiting on those thoughts and prayers to come in. The NRA is a cancer on humanity. We even felt its reach over here when Pauline Hanson’s One Nation was in talks to receive donations from the group. The disease is spreading and there’s no known cure. Our world seems to be embracing Right-wing political leaders and this is the result of it — more blood will be shed until sanity can prevail in the governments of the world.

One can only imagine how different things would be if all of these Christian, white supremacist terrorist shooters were foreigners with different religious backgrounds. There’s no doubt that Trump would put the golf clubs down for a minute and actually do something; act rather than react. Whereas the rest of the world, the part that’s sane and rational, sees this trend of shootings for what it is — people turning on each other. It doesn’t matter who is doing it, the real issue is that it’s happening at all. Human beings are accessing these powerful weapons easily and using them against their fellow humans.

Sometimes people make comments about how America is reverting back to the Old West, but at least back then you needed a reason to get shot (and I’m purely basing this on what I’ve seen in movies and TV shows, but at the same time I’ve never heard of anyone walking into a saloon and mowing its patrons down with six-shooters).

I really hope for a day when all of this is just a blemish on our history. I hope that future generations can live peacefully in a world without guns and without being scared that they’ll be another statistic. I hope that teenagers can go to school without having to create disturbing hashtags and put stickers on their phones asking whoever finds it to post a picture of their corpse to hopefully shock some sense back into us.

This whole world needs to change, starting with our loud, rude and obnoxious cousin, the USA. Whether that actually happens, only time will tell. Until then, I guess we can only wait for the next tragic headline where the saddest aspect will be the absence of any feelings of shock.

You can follow digital editor Dan Jensen on Twitter @danjensenmovies or check out his YouTube channel, Movie Talk with Dan Jensen.

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