What the world would be like without mass shootings

Once again, and all too soon, our nation awoke to yet another mass shooting.  Tuesday’s rampage at the Navy yard claimed 12 victims and the shooter.  I don’t know about you, but I am tired of seeing this sort of thing on the news.

Time and time again, these terrible events have penetrated places we never before thought to protect.  Our college campuses, elementary schools, movie theatres, places of worship, even our military installations will never feel safe again.

If it seems like this is happening a lot lately, you’re right – it is.  Mass shootings have increased with alarming frequency in recent years.  In fact, of the 13 worst mass shootings in American history, more have happened since 2007 than in the 58 preceding years combined.

Penn_State_2007_Spring_Game_-_VT_section

Penn State students honor victims of the Virginia Tech massacre

Mass shootings and plane crashes make the news for the same reason: because they’re fairly rare.  Allow me to explain:

Nearly 90 people a day die in auto accidents in the US.  That’s why fatal car accidents typically don’t make national news – because they literally happen every day.  In contrast, the odds of perishing in a plane crash are one in 45 million.  So when a plane goes down and there are fatalities, it’s newsworthy simply because it doesn’t happen often at all.

Now, make no mistake – mass shootings are becoming more frequent, and we should all be concerned about that trend.  What should concern us more is that something equally evil happens so often that mass shootings themselves really are rare in comparison.

Related: A blind man buys a gun

Here’s something you won’t believe.

In Iowa, people who are blind can buy guns.

It’s legal.  Apparently, a blind person operating a firearm was not deemed to be a public safety risk for Iowans when the applicable laws were written. Maybe they just didn’t think about it. (Which is scarier?)

Here’s the question: Would you want someone in your neighborhood shooting a gun, well, blindly?

Blind gun owner

The larger crisis is this:  Since Newtown, over 8,000 deaths have been reported in the media.  Overall, nearly 35,000 people a year die from gun violence.

It happens every day.  It happens so much that we’ve become immune to it.  It happens so much that it is mathematically less newsworthy than the sun coming up in the morning.

So what would the world be like without mass shootings? Better, and still bad.  If we don’t solve the issue of gun violence in general, tens of thousands will continue to perish every year, most in acts of suicide.

Perhaps the most poignant anecdote of how sad this state of affairs has become is how good places like the MedStar Washington Hospital Center have become at treating gunshot victims.

When giving a press conference about victims that were hospitalized there, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Janis Orlowski remarked that something is clearly wrong when we have these senseless shooting incidents.  She then added the following thought-provoking comment:

I’d like you to put my trauma center out of business.

This is not the sort of statement you hear every day, and her point rang loud and clear: We should all work toward a world in which there are no shooting victims to save.

She went on to speak of the evil in our society that this represents and how we all have to work to eradicate it.  Who can disagree? We’ve got to do everything we can to prevent something like this from happening again.

My heart goes out to the loved ones left behind on Tuesday.  Moreover, my heart goes out to the loved ones left behind every day by events that don’t even make the national news.

When will enough be enough?  We shouldn’t rest as a nation until any single gun death makes the news because of how rare it is.

It is the very least we can do.


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