Jackson Gray | The Poly Post

America’s desensitization to gun violence is worrying

By Darren Loo, March 7, 2023

Mass shootings have seemed to become part of the American culture. They are happening so often that people just forget that it’s happening, slowly becoming desensitized to mass shootings.

Before I delve any deeper into this topic, let me ask you, how many mass shootings have happened in just 2023 alone and how many have you actually heard of? According to the Gun Violence Archive, as of February 26, there have been 91 mass shootings in 2023 alone.

Keep in mind that February 26 is only 56 days into the new year, which is nearing almost two mass shootings every day, and there are no signs of it slowing down. In just 2023 alone, about 132 people were killed and 363 injured from mass shootings.

Now back to my earlier question, how many out of the 91 mass shootings have you actually heard about? A recent shooting that hits close to students and instilled fear in many students across the nation is the Michigan State University shooting. After this shooting, many students’ feared it could possibly happen to them any moment.

Another mass shooting that hits close to home for many Cal Poly Pomona students, and in fact, as of Feb. 26, the deadliest mass shooting of 2023, is the Monterey Park Star Ballroom Dance Studio shooting, which killed 11 and injured nine.

Jackson Gray | The Poly Post

Many vigils were held for the 11 victims who were killed in that shooting. I participated in one of those vigils, and it felt surreal. I also have many friends who live or lived in Monterey Park, and they told me they never thought anything like this would happen in Monterey Park. I personally never thought anything of this scale would happen so close to the place I call home.

People of all ages in the United States have to live with the fear they could be caught in a shooting incident at anytime and anywhere. This is especially true for younger generations as they are born and raised as mass shootings and school shootings ramped up. Lockdown drills and active shooter drills play a big role in American schools today. Kids must live with the constant fear of mass shootings, even when they are simply getting an education.

When I was writing the story about the Monterey Park shooting for the Poly Post, I talked to a lot of students about the shooting. To my surprise, many of the students, especially students who live further away from Monterey Park, didn’t know much about the Monterey Park shooting. Most of them told me they heard about the shooting through the mass email CPP President Soraya Coley sent out or saw it on the news somewhere but then kind of just brushed it aside.

Initially, I thought,How can some people be so ignorant?” But after I finished that article, I thought about it more and realized that the only reason why I knew more about it and felt the effects of the shooting is because of how close I live to it.

Talking with people from Monterey Park at the vigils I attended and talking with people I know from Monterey Park made me finally realize how desensitized America is becoming to mass shootings.

I remember people telling me unless children are killed, people die in massive numbers or it happens really close to home, people are like, “Oh, it’s another shooting.” Before doing research, I didn’t even know there have been more than 90 shootings in 2023 alone before.

But you also can’t blame the general public for allowing these shooting news stories to just fly by us. It’s happening so often that it has just become the norm. It’s no longer a surprise when incidents like these happen.

But it shouldn’t be that way. The United States has a gun issue, and about 72% of Americans agree guns are a moderately big problem in the United States, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. However, even after hundreds and thousands of mass shootings, gun laws haven’t changed.

Take New Zealand, for example. After the Christchurch shooting, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern enacted new gun laws that banned most semi-automatic and assault weapons, with exceptions made for the military and law enforcement. Laws were also made to restrict the stockpiling of weapons to prevent mass murder incidents, like the Christchurch shooting.

And while we are on the topic of Christchurch, we could also see how much more it was reported around the world. It was breaking news throughout the world, that a shooting like that happened in New Zealand. However, in the United States, unless the shooting hits close to home for people, they would likely not know about it.

There have been multiple mass shooting events in the United States that were worse than what Christchurch experienced, but New Zealand responded promptly. In the United States, it seems as though politics and Americans’ love for guns triumph over gun control and the lives and well-being of the American population. The result of this is shooting after shooting, and Americans are starting to see it as a norm, becoming desensitized to mass shootings.

Feature image by Jackson Gray

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