The right to bear (life- ending) arms

Have we become desensitized to mass shootings?

The headline read, “10 dead, 10 injured in Southern California mass shooting.” Yet, I read it with the same emotion I might have if it were any other headline.

The Jan. 21 shooting in Monterey Park, Calif. now has a death toll of 11. NPR reported on another mass shooting just two days after that in Half Moon Bay, Calif., noting that 18 people had died and 10 were injured within three days across California from the shootings.

In a 2015 report, the U.S. Congressional Research Service defined a mass shooting as an incident where four or more individuals are murdered using a firearm. In the 29 days of 2023 that have passed before I wrote this, there have been more than 40 incidents in the U.S. where misuse of a firearm left at least four people injured or dead.

The thing that has been keeping me up at night is that every time I read a headline including “mass shooting,” I don’t feel what I think I should feel, no matter how close to home the tragedy may be.

I question what I should be feeling anyways. Shock? Surprise? Heartache, sadness, anger? When faced with one mass shooting after another, I feel nothing significant.

I am going to chalk this up to the psychological process of desensitization. When we consistently experience similar events, our emotional response to them lessens over time.

When I was just becoming aware of the world around me and my place in it, hearing about mass shootings in schools, movie theatres, grocery stores and the most mundane locations did make me angry and sad, but above all, anxious. But now, that anxiety is both at its peak and nearly dissolved.

This desensitization makes me wonder if there will ever be an event that pushes me back to those emotions. It may be that only a mass shooting where I have direct ties to the location, a victim or the offender will do it.

That part of it is so frustrating. No part of me wants to be desensitized to innocent people being killed.

It is not as if there is no opposition to the States’ lack of control on guns. Groups like March For Our Lives and Moms Demand Action have been advocating for stricter gun laws for years. Nothing too notable has come from that action, and as long as the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the second amendment —which I think will be forever — there will never be a decrease in mass gun violence.

As of now, 77 per cent of mass shooters have had firearms that were purchased or obtained legally. That means that even with the different gun laws that different states have, you can still easily purchase a firearm, sometimes with there being no record.

You could literally buy a gun in one state where it is legal to buy it and drive across a state line, entering a state where you cannot buy that gun legally, and have a gun in your possession without anyone ever knowing. The loopholes are endless.

As for the Second Amendment, it reads, “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.”

While this makes complete sense in the context of 1791 when it was written, it does not make sense anymore.

We live in an era where people will interpret laws such as the Second Amendment to fit their ideals or wants. It’s hard to tear a die-hard “freedom-seeker” from their gun.

I don’t see the U.S. government doing anything about mass shootings other than offering thoughts and prayers. And I don’t see the country ever passing a gun control law federally that actually contributes to saving lives. Unless the government somehow accomplishes this, citizens of the nation will continue to become desensitized to extremely tragic mass shootings that are increasingly commonplace.