Last Thursday, tragedy struck at a small Oregon college when Chris Harper-Mercer opened fire on Umpqua Community College campus and killed nine students while wounding 20. The shooter committed suicide moments after exchanging gunfire with officers.
As with every school shooting, President Barack Obama delivered grave remarks to express his sincere regret and, this time, tireless frustration. What began as a time for him to show sympathy to the victims’ families turned into a vent session about the little effort put into preventing another shooting.
“Somehow this has become routine,” he said. “The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine, the conversation in the aftermath of it…We have become numb to this.”
However, just as Obama delivered the same televised message as the last incident, America again turned the channel. When was the last time you felt any pain from a school shooting?
As Obama mentioned in his address, our thoughts and prayers to these victims’ families are no longer enough, and he’s right. As a public, we have become numb to yet another act of senseless violence.
But this is not an issue of gun rights or Second Amendment arguments; this is a problem of the apathy present in our culture.
We live in a country where the value of human life is diminishing, where the easiest way to tackle a problem is to get rid of it. We are so desensitized to violence that it no longer fazes us when handfuls of people die at the hand of a coward.
We shouldn’t simply criticize the means used to kill these people but rather assess the culture from which these shooters come. The gun is nothing more than a tool, as is a car, which statistically kills more people than guns.
No matter what side of the political spectrum you lie on, we can all agree change in some area of the argument needs to happen. The problem, however, is the people who have the power to change have thus far delivered lip service and indecisiveness to the American public.
We’ve turned a blind eye to the fact that there have been 142 school shootings since January 2013, six in the last 12 months. Yes, you read that correctly: 142.
These numbers are staggering, considering we do nothing more than label them as nonchalantly as we do hurricanes like Sandy Hook and Columbine. We don’t think twice about “just another school shooting,” but rather we continue scrolling our newsfeed or turn off the television.
Countless headlines surfaced following the massacre that read something along the lines of, “Oregon shooting prompts gun control debate.” However, it seems as though every mass school shooting has prompted some kind of debate but never any real results.
This is not a global issue we face. In fact, no other country in the world has near as apparent a problem than the U.S., where madmen regularly enter gun-free zones like schools and slay innocent, unarmed people.
For Christians especially, this shooting should strike a nerve. Harper-Mercer questioned his victims whether or not they were Christians. If so, he pulled the trigger.
How many more school shootings must happen before our government can react more than a sympathetic issued statement or a few solemn words on TV? As Baylor students, we should be enraged that our government stands idle while our colleagues at other schools are senselessly paying the price. We don’t have an answer for the gun control problem, but it’s up to our elected officials to make us safer. But this cannot happen until we assess our cultural standards.
Don’t wait for another Umpqua to make a difference. This is a heart issue; change must begin from within. For or against any form of gun control, change must happen — now. Wake up. Enough is enough.