Society is too accepting of mass violence

Last week, I was sitting on the grass with my co-workers, training to be camp counselors for the summer. During our lunch break, we all naturally checked our phones and were bombarded with news that there was an active shooter on the UCLA campus. Being a San Francisco native, this news hit very close to home, as dozens of my close friends and family have connections to UCLA. However, despite the horrific news, we all were somber for a moment and then moved on to the next topic.

I was not alone in my reaction. According to a poll conducted by NBC and the Wall Street Journal, 71 percent of Americans now consider mass shooting events to be a regular part of American life. There are many reasons why people claim these attacks keep occurring: ample access to guns, a lack of mental health infrastructure and even the effects of violent video games on young people. However, despite the many potential reasons as to why these events continue to happen, there never seems to be a long-term solution or change.

In the aftermath of the UCLA shooting and other acts of mass violence, media outlets cover the event 24/7, plastering the news with information about the perpetrator, motives, etc. After the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in late 2012, in which the gunman shot and killed 20 first-grade students and six adults, our country once again reeled from a tragedy that seemed so preventable. How could we have saved the lives and heartbreak of this event? However, according to Elite Daily, congress has not passed a single gun control law since. While political candidates and incumbents speak about how they would solve the problem, they are not able to get to a point of compromise with the other side of the aisle in order to forge progress in the realm of preventing such events from plaguing American society.

The safety of ourselves, our families and our communities cannot be allowed to be put in the hands of politicians who let their pride get in the way of progress. While the issue of gun control is a controversial one, there are so many other steps that we could take as a nation in order to prevent such events from occurring. Whether it be reducing the stigma about mental health care and increasing its accessibility, monitoring the use and sale of violent video games to minors or bulking up background checks on firearm purchases, there are alternative ways that politicians can help their communities remain safe without encroaching on anyone’s right to bear arms.

Instead of letting this issue of mass violence become a point of pride, we should take it for what it is: an epidemic. If we do not act harshly and swiftly, we are keeping the chinks in our armor open, allowing ourselves and our communities to be vulnerable to such devastating events to occur again and again. Sometimes compromise is necessary in life, and our politicians need to realize this and get their noses to the grindstone in order to find a way to work something out that everyone can agree on.

As I said above, I am going to be a camp counselor this summer. At this job, I will be working at a school for the next six weeks. At the same camp training where I heard about the shooting at UCLA, we were trained on the best ways to deal with a violent intruder or an active shooter. While it is always good to be prepared for the worst outcome, we should not have to accept such acts of violence as commonplace in our society. Teachers shouldn’t have to have an action plan or strategy on how best to protect their students from a shooter or intruder. Instead, our government should take the necessary steps to ensure that our communities are safe, something they are currently not doing. Sometimes pride needs to take a step back in order to let progress forge ahead.

Samantha is a sophomore intending to major in journalism and communication arts. Do you agree that we are too accepting of mass violence in our society? Let us know at opinion@dailycardinal.com. 

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