Mass Shootings: Can we really prevent them?

I’m writing this no thanks to the man who shot up an Orlando night club last night. However its been something I’ve been wanting to express for a while. I don’t enjoy writing this, and to be honest I figured that it would take another shooting to encourage me to. That’s pretty disturbing.

First of all my heart goes out to all the victims. Every single one of them. Family, friends, acquaintances, the works. I can’t, and hope I never have to, experience what you all are going through. I know. That’s something that people are supposed to say when something like this happens. No I didn’t steal that line from the president. I just don’t know what else to say.

How can anybody know what to say to that? “Shit sorry for your loss.” That’s a sentence that people have saved in stock when death peeks its head around the corner. Death is so powerful that it’s often beyond words. It’s funny words can be used as weapons to severely hurt somebody, whether it’s cyber bullying, or a face to face encounter, but in matters of death they have little affect in curing what ails the victim. That’s just my personal opinion of course. I’m not saying words don’t help everyone. They are powerful tools in the right hands, and often provide comfort when nothing else will, but I digress.

In a situation like this I imagine that words to these victims offer little solace. I imagine they evaporate right before they reach the victims face. They know the comfort is there, but they can’t feel it, and maybe never will.

The Orlando shooting was an act of terror. So in a way it’s very different from random shootings like Columbine or Virginia Tech, where fingers are pointed in all directions for something or someone to blame. I’m certainly not saying that it’s any less serious or painful, but at least there was a clear motive in place, and maybe for some that could be a path to closure.

Too often when something like this happens the motive is fuzzy at best. It always reminds me of Gus Van Sant’s film Elephant. It’s one of my favorite films of all time, and also one of the most disturbing I’ll ever watch.

See the title is taken from the phrase “An Elephant in the room”. Meaning there’s something we have to talk about that no one wants to. My belief is that through this film Gus Van Sant’s point is that the motive behind random shootings is there is no motive. Which makes it all the more frightening. The film follows several students around school during a normal day up until the shootings take place. It also follows the two gunmen. Gus Van Sant does an excellent job of dropping in details that some people believe are the cause of shootings, such as violent video games, and a lack of parental guidance. However once the credits start to appear the viewer is left with no answers. Only what they believe.

So to take a stand against these acts and try to prevent them to me almost seems like a waste of energy. I don’t 100% believe that of course, I’d love to live in a world where tragedies like this were extinct, but the awful truth is that they will never stop and that they are a part of the world we live in. My girlfriend recited a good point today that she heard from her dad while we were discussing this:

“When things like this happen people believe the world is falling apart around them. But mass killings like this have been happening since societies became a reality. We just hear about them right away these days thanks to technology, which then makes us panic and believe that all is lost.”

It’s hard not to believe that all is lost when this is a part of the world we live in. There’s no comfort in this fact, but it’s still a fact.

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