Once upon a time, a mass shooting was a rare event. Incidents such as the Kent State massacre and the Columbine High School shooting shook the country to its core. For weeks, months, it was the only news topic. People kept the event in the back of their minds every time they stepped foot into a high school or saw a Vietnam protest. The country proclaimed that nothing like that would ever happen again.
Now, it seems as if one of these incidents occurs every week. The event dominates the news for a few days, or maybe even a week, before a new massacre takes its place. People remember the tragedies, but maybe not in detail, as they have countless others to remember, too. We no longer proclaim that nothing like that will ever happen again — because we know it will.
According to Stanford Libraries, which also formed the Stanford Mass Shooting of America data project, a mass shooting is defined as "three or more shooting victims (not necessarily fatalities), not including the shooter. The shooting must not be identifiably gang, drug, or organized crime-related."
While most mass shootings that gain national attention are quite larger (such as the Orlando mass shooting at Pulse nightclub, which claimed 49 victims and is the second-worst mass shooting in the modern U.S.), these are ALL tragedies that contribute to the desensitized nature of our country.
As of August 5, the Huffington Post reported that 255 mass shootings have taken place in the United States in 2019.
This has become the sad reality of growing up in a world full of people focused on destroying each other. At the age of 18, I've experienced far more mass shootings than my parents ever did. What was a terrible, perhaps even life-altering event for them has become everyday life for me.
This is the reality for all young people growing up in the United States today. Instead of backpacks with laptop pockets (which was such a revolution!), we're buying backpacks that are bulletproof. Instead of spending the last hour of our school day learning, we're practicing active-shooter drills. And instead of growing up believing the best in the world, we're growing up seeing the worst of it.
And in the end, it's up to this generation to put a stop to it. The same kids who grew up wearing bulletproof backpacks will be the same adults who pass legislation focused on gun control. The same adults who push for background checks. The same adults who put aside their political differences to focus on taking down those who want to see the world burn.
The same adults who grew up desensitized to mass shootings and decided to do something about it.