A week and two days ago, a handful of our editors were at The Globe office working on laying out the newspaper and preparing it for distribution when we saw the news of the King Soopers shooting in Boulder, Colorado. We stopped what we were doing and stared at the small television screen tucked in the left hand corner of the office for a few minutes. One of our editors turned and looked at all of us and said, “well, it looks like America is back to normal.”
Pioneers, it gives us no joy to once again dedicate this space to the victims of gunfire who should still be with us. Just within a week of the Atlanta spa shootings, a gunman in Boulder killed 10 people on March 22 before authorities apprehended him. But, as the pandemic restrictions across the country ease, the more things return to the status quo. And the status quo in the United States is random and frequent mass shootings.
The Boulder and Atlanta shootings have only confirmed our worst fears. Instead of the pandemic acting as a somber period of reflection and encouraging us to change the flaws of our society, it has only exposed our worst failings and, with its apparent nearing end, ushered in the same problems we have faced before. Much has changed with the pandemic, but our inability to take meaningful action to solve public health crises, toxic ideology culture and compassion fatigue have all persisted and worsened in this time if anything.
We at The Globe believe that everyone should be supportive of the idea that mass shootings in the United States cannot be a normal that we return to. The causes that have been advocated for to improve lives for whole communities can’t be pushed to the backburner. Not when people are dying each day due to inaction.
There are few things as individuals that we can do to specifically change the gun violence epidemic of this country. Raising awareness among your own social circles, engaging in responsible behaviors if you are a gun owner and donating to activist groups that lobby for common-sense gun legislation are all important steps, but they won’t lead to significantly stopping the problem. The truth is that the road to change lies with our legislators, the majority of whom seem to be incapable of even considering red flag laws, extreme risk protection orders and increasing background checks—and, with the ones who are in support, they are unable to gain enough support to pass related bills. All of this, even when the data shows an overwhelming number of Americans support these measures.
Ultimately, the inaction is tied to the fact that almost none of the decision-makers in the country are directly impacted by gun violence. It begs the question of what exactly it will take for them to act, if they will have to see their own loved ones gunned down, before they finally take the long-overdue stand to keep people from dying senselessly.
We realize this sounds bleak, Pioneers, and the truth is we are tired. We are tired of seeing people all over this nation taken before their time. We are tired of unstable individuals feeling galvanized by news coverage of mass shooters.
But we are not letting that fatigue lull us into complacency. And neither should you. This must end.