Laker Notes: When the horror becomes commonplace
In the minutes following last week's shooting in Las Vegas, I turned on my TV to see flashing blue and red lights and realized amid the frantic blaring of sirens that I was witnessing the fourth major mass shooting in my lifetime.
It was a harrowing thought, and one that jolted me from my gaze on the screen.
Smaller mass shootings happen almost every day in this country, of course. In 2017 alone, more than 475 people have died in violent events in which four or more people were shot or killed. But three times previously in my life, my parents and I have turned on the news and been faced with the kind of glaring headlines, close-ups of sobbing onlookers and snapshots of death and destruction that we witnessed last week from Las Vegas.
Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
The days that followed my realization were filled with grief and despair. At every turn, I saw journalists shouting descriptions of the scene, activists protesting an absence of gun control and families mourning the loss of their loved ones.
And then suddenly, silence. A little more than a week later, much of the outrage and agony seems to have faded into the background of each day's news cycle. It's a pattern with which we should be all too familiar.
In some ways, it's to be expected; at every turn, a new story can break and something that occurred only moments ago is suddenly squished into a small headline at the bottom of the screen. With news stories like the Las Vegas tragedy, however, I find this to be especially detrimental.
Each day that the greatest mass shooting in modern American history is not talked about, the wide variety of solutions that are proposed — whether it be mental health treatment, gun control or discussions about domestic terrorism — slowly slip out of focus.
There is no one solution to the devastation that occurred in Las Vegas on Oct. 1. There are, however, many steps we can take in the form of legislation, increased awareness or simply coming together as a community to ensure that tragedies that have such a big impact on our lives never become diluted by the latest headline.