Mass Shootings in the US – Not Tragic, Just a Cost of Doing Business

Nov 29

Mass Shootings in the US – Not Tragic, Just a Cost of Doing Business

On Friday, November 27th, 2015, I was not surprised to see news of a shooting incident on progress at a Planned Parenthood location in Colorado. On December 2nd, 2 more mass shootings, including 14 dead in San Bernadino. At this time, we don’t truly know the motivation of the shooters. One was the usual hillbilly picture of a born-again Christian. The other seems to be committed by Muslims. What we do know is that almost 20 people are dead and almost 40 injured.

I assume that I was just one of many people who flipped to the cable news stations, looking for further information. It was there, not surprisingly. With a limited amount of real information, the usual cast of talking heads and reporters eating their own tails, reporting on each other’s comments assumptions. Of course, the US President made a statement, decrying the violence.

And all about the reporting was the word “tragedy”.

Whether one watches the news regularly or gets it from the evening comedy chat shows, one is exposed to the word “tragedy” on an almost daily basis. From people suffering incurable disease to victims of “terrorist” attacked to bloody accidents to mass shootings, “tragedies” abound. They are fuel for the news engine.

I want to posit that while there are many tragedies in the world, the word does not apply to some situations. In this case, tragedy is a word that does not apply to mass shootings in the United States.

Victims-of-Mass-ShootingsA quick Google search shows about 40-50 mass shooting since 2000 and 70-80 since 1982. This includes such famous occurrences as Columbine and Newport and many more that all but the victims’ friends and families have forgotten.

I feel deeply for the victims and their loved ones. To them, each occurrence is tragic. But to the United States, each victim is but a sacrifice that must be made in honour of their society. The country, as a whole, has decided that the right to bear massive amounts of arm is more important than efforts to restrict the number of deaths by firearm. And this is OK!

We have, as democratic societies, the right to weigh and balance our priorities. The US prioritizes cheaper prices ahead of wages, a sense of security ahead of the risk of privacy and the ownership of firearms slightly ahead of the risks associated with mass ownership. These decisions are reflected in their local, state and federal representatives, their statutes and legislation. These decisions are reflected in the actions they take on a daily basis and that they take in response to each incidence of mass murder.

I don’t know why, or even if, the US culture glorifies violence and killing. Some say that it is the extraordinary level of violence glorified on television and in movies. Some talk about the violent lyrics in modern music. Some talk about a culture grounded in a western mythos of rugged individualists who protect themselves with a gun. I don’t know if any of these make any difference. But love of firearms and their use is a real part of the US ethos.

I am not criticizing the US on this. As a society, their citizens have a right to choose. It is their duty to choose.

But if a society makes a choice to have over 300 million guns in private ownership, I think they forgo the right to wear the hair shirt when the inevitable happens. Call it what it is, just a cost of doing business.

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