Last week I had the pleasure of getting to see my girlfriend in San Francisco, but without enough money to fly, I decided to take an eight-hour bus ride (like any sane person would do). As you can probably guess, it was a cramped and disappointing trip for all of the passengers. The bus, advertising free Wi-Fi throughout the whole trip, failed to deliver on its promise, and many of the passengers, including myself, were upset. As I sat there, watching my fellow travelers complaining to one another, talking about writing bad Yelp reviews, and overall just being incredibly frustrated with this turn of events, a thought occurred to me: gun violence and mass shootings have become far too frequent in this country.
The massive shooting in Orlando where around 100 people were either killed or injured in a nightclub had happened just the day before, and, judging by the mood of my bus, seemed like nothing serious had transpired. For all of us, the status of the Wi-Fi held precedence. Now I am aware that my bus is not an accurate sample size for our country but I cannot help but see the patterns, and I am not the only one. There are plenty of statistics that support the terrible increase in gun violence. Mark Shields, a PBS commentator, stated, “More Americans have died from gunfire than died in … all the wars of this country's history, from the Revolutionary through the Civil War, World War I, World War II, in those 43 years.” (Source: PolitiFact.com). However, this article is not about statistics, although frankly the argument really should stop there. This article is about that relaxed collective gut feeling America gets when we learn about another shooting. That feeling where we all look at our phones, see the news, and think, “I am not surprised.” That is a thought reserved for common and slightly annoying things, like having a flat tire or when your cat pukes in your shoes (further evidence for why dogs are better), not for things that result in drastic and quick loss of life.
Why are people more willing to log onto Yelp and post a scathingly long comment about how their salad was missing a single crouton, but don’t have the time to call their elected official and berate them for a lack of Congressional action? What happened to our shock? Our rage at these injustices? Where are the American patriots calling upon a war on guns? America completely upended entire countries when two planes killed 3,000 people and injured 6,000 others on September 11th, but we remain silent for the 1.4 million who have died thanks to firearms?
I am not going to bore you with what I believe to be the right course of action. Nor will I weigh this article down with pointing the blame at one group over another. But we need to ask ourselves, when did mass shootings become so commonplace that our immediate response is apathy? When did we decide just to stop having the conversation? Moreover, when did not having Wi-Fi become a bigger concern than the loss of 1.4 million people?