The Parkland Shooting

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

Author’s Note: This post talks about a recent mass shooting. This isn’t a post which will restore faith in humanity.

Recently there was a mass shooting in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people and wounded 14 more as of this writing. The alleged perpetrator was a former student, recent orphan, and trained briefly with a white supremacist group. Reports of the incident indicated that he used an AR-15 rifle during his attack.

Generally I try to avoid news of mass shootings, because the circus around them follows a haunting pattern of events. A day after the shooting, the news is just finalizing the basic questions phase and sensationalizing certain details. It depends on the overall narrative being constructed. Some reports already focus on the fact that the alleged shooter legally purchased his firearm. National leaders and state leaders are calling this a mental health issue.

This isn’t anything new.
We do this after every major mass shooting that happens. Some people blame guns, and others blame the mentally ill. Social media gets flooded with lazily-researched articles railing against whatever they’re mad at that day. That’s right; the deaths of people gets relegated to an excuse to type angry words into a machine. The sad thing is, I’m no different.

I’m mostly writing this because I had to sit through another stupid rant I’ve heard after every other mass shooting that makes it to the news. Up until that point, I’d done a good job of just avoiding looking into media and seeing the face of grief. Those pictures don’t do anything for me except remind me that being a voyeur to misery is a booming business. Nothing gets done except moving onto the next tragedy.

In the meantime, the mentally infirm and gun ownership get dragged through the mud. Platitudes get thrown around like they have real meaning. They don’t, but they make people feel smug about their opinions.

Personally, I want to deal with facts.
For example, here is an analysis of school shootings done by a private agency (because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can’t). It lists some initial findings on how school shootings affect students. Even shootings that don’t kill anyone can reduce student performance.

Facts don’t always make it to the public consciousness. Most often, it’s because facts don’t fit a political narrative. They just exist, uncaring about whether anyone believes them. It’s just that facts regarding gun violence can be useful when wanting to figure out how best to reduce it.

How is one supposed to deal with ignorance regarding mental illness in the meantime?
I didn’t handle the stupid conversation in a healthy way; I quietly walked off before losing my temper. I’d just heard that the alleged shooter had a long history of mental illness, but that it was law enforcement’s fault for not stopping him from getting a gun. It doesn’t matter that this isn’t how gun laws work; NRA talking points are always right. At the time, I had a choice of either opening my mouth and hearing more stupid things, or walking away and trying to get myself back under control.

The important thing for me to remember is that these tragedies are going to prompt people to say the first thing that comes to mind. If I get angry at the public displays of ignorance surrounding mental illness, I’d stay mad forever. It just hurts more when it comes from family.

Most of all, some families are going through a grim tragedy. They’re not getting listened to in public to help them; they’re getting used to sell media. I want to remember that these are people who deserve and need more respect than scrutiny at a dark time in their lives. It’s what I’d want if our roles were reversed.

9 thoughts on “The Parkland Shooting

  1. Sirius,
    I’m a High School teacher. I thought the comments from the students (the ones I saw here in Canada, anyway) were most pertinent. Especially the well-spoken young fellow who said, “You’re the adults. We’re kids. DO something”. Like enacting gun legislation. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree that something needs to be done, but putting it into practice in the States is excessively difficult. The NRA is the biggest force behind the proliferation of weapons in civilian hands, and even worse, the Second Amendment now protects that proliferation. Then, specifically, the alleged shooter in Parkland didn’t do anything that would have prevented him from getting a weapon.

      So it’s very difficult to figure out a way to ask for meaningful gun control that would have stopped this. It’s this state of affairs that needs to get dealt with first. The Second Amendment has to get rewritten so it isn’t a suicide pact, and the NRA lobby has to get neutralized.

      Like

      • It’s true that no other country has a love affair with guns like the States. I will never understand it. However, it’s imperative that something drastic happen. If it doesn’t, students will continue to be the sacrificial price of ‘the right to bear arms.’ 😦
        I am thinking of the #MeToo# movement. It was a campaign started online, just as a campaign by students could ‘go viral’. I am hoping, anyway.

        Liked by 3 people

    • The paranoid style is pretty effective at resisting re-framing. I’m beginning to think that the only way gun ownership is going to change where I live is when there are enough direct victims of gun violence that they can’t ignore the problem. Until then, the rhetoric is going to be more important than the people involved.

      It’s getting bad here. I’ve heard people say things that they’d never say to the families directly. But they’re badasses when they don’t have to face the consequences of what they’re saying.

      Liked by 1 person

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