Back in high school, I was a member of the newspaper staff. And we had this list that as far as I can recall, was called a ‘kill list.’ Which, looking back, was an awful name for a list, and this is in no way funny anymore. But this list consisted of phrases that we decided should no longer be used. The one phrase, from the list, that I’ve always remembered was ‘Husky Girls.’ Which came from the fact that our school mascot was a Husky, but we realized using the headline ‘Husky Girls Basketball…’ sounded really mean.
Well, call it Political Correctness, or whatever the hell you want, but it’s time that our society embraces a similar list. And two of the first terms that should be lasered onto this list should be; ‘Never Again’ and ‘Never Forget.’ They’re uttered with the upmost sincerity, but they’re complete bullshit.
A little more about my youth; I was raised Jewish. So whenever the Holocaust was being discussed, ‘Never Again’ was always voiced. When survivors would come to temple, to speak about the horrors they witnessed when they were my age, and I saw the tattoos on their forearms, that weren’t part of a crazy spring break, they always hammered home the belief that society could and would ‘never again’ allow such atrocities. Everyone who said it, meant it with every fiber of their being. And everyone who heard it, believed it with every cell in their body. But it was bullshit then, and its bullshit now. Just Google ‘modern genocide’ and you’ll see a list that includes the following, from just my lifetime, in which an estimated 2.4 million people were slaughtered: Darfur, Rwanda, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Cambodia
Never again? Sorry, that’s a lie. It will happen again, and again.
We said never again on April 20, 1999, after two teenagers went into their high school and murdered 13 people. But since that day, there have been 169 more school shootings (excluding murder-suicides by rejected suitors, suicides and suicide attempts) that has resulted in 279 deaths and 412 injuries. And last night, after the most recent shooting, I heard a mind-blowing statistic on the news: since Columbine, there are 150,000 survivors of school shootings. To put that in something resembling context, 50,000 people worked in the World Trade Center. So if the towers were full the morning of 9/11, there were roughly 47,000 survivor of the worst terrorist attack in American history. More than three times as many people have survived attacks at their school. Never again? It’s bullshit. It’s only a matter of when and where.
And that’s insane, because this isn’t an issue facing the rest of the world. Last night, I heard multiple anchors say something along the lines of “the world we live in today.” But this is an American issue. I heard (people are saying) that since Columbine, there have been 18 school shootings outside the United States. Which just happens to be the same number of school shootings reported in the States, just this year. Now, to be fair, I just read an article that questions what is counted as a school shooting, and states only five of the 18, are legitimate school shootings. But how completely twisted is it, that we have to hold a conversation around “what defines a school shooting?” https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/no-there-havent-been-18-school-shooting-in-2018-that-number-is-flat-wrong/2018/02/15/65b6cf72-1264-11e8-8ea1-c1d91fcec3fe_story.html?utm_term=.e89adc7d16e8
I get it, there are over 300 million guns in this country, and they aren’t going away. That doesn’t mean we’re helpless. Only 11 states currently require, that a lost or stolen gun be reported. That’s just stupid. What I’d like to see, that seems realistic to me, is holding people accountable. If a gun you legally purchased, and it wasn’t reported stolen, and it is used in the commission of a crime, you can considered liable. If it was reported lost, you should still have to face some sort of punishment. I keep hearing how Chicago has such tough gun laws, yet they have an epidemic of violence. And it’s true, but not one of those guns was manufactured by a criminal in Chicago. The first time it left the factory, it did so legally. Somewhere along the line, someone decided to sell it to someone, without performing a background check. Maybe that buyer never committed an act of violence with that weapon, but they may have sold it to someone who sold it to someone who did. And if you’re selling a weapon, without performing a background check, it’s because you don’t want to know, because ignorance is bliss. Screw that, it’s 2018, you have a computer in your pocket that is a million times smarter than the computers used to put a man on the moon. Selling a weapon without a background check would be like selling beer in Forever21, but not carding anyone. You know damn well what you’re doing.
And while we aren’t getting guns off the streets, we don’t have to continue to allow them. Specifically, weapons like the AR15. If that kid in Florida had only been able to get his hands on a handgun, and could only purchase a magazine that held 10 rounds, we’d still be grieving the tragic and senseless loss of life, but there would be more people grieving and less being buried. And maybe all of this would cost the country hundreds of millions of dollars, and maybe these steps alone would only save one life, I guarandamntee you’d say it was all worth it, if the life it saved was someone you loved.
This whole thing is a lot closer to home than we realize. A good friend of mine told me, that a woman he works with, lost her niece in that school. And someone in the building I work in, lost a cousin. I live 1,400 miles away from Parkland, and I’m two degrees removed from knowing the family of one victim. So, if you know me, and since you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you do, you’re at most, three degrees removed from a family that was just devastated. This isn’t just a tragedy you watched unfold on the news, you’re proximity to this is probably closer than your proximity to a Super Bowl champion. And if not this tragedy, don’t worry, there’s another one waiting right around the corner.
So we have to stop saying “never again” until we’re willing to take every action to make that a reality. Otherwise, it’s a statement that’s as hollow as “thoughts and prayers.”