President Donald Trump responded to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida by addressing the need “to help secure our schools, and tackle the difficult issue of mental health.” He tweeted, offering his “prayers and condolences,” promising the United States that his administration wants to do “whatever we can do to ease your pain.”
Meanwhile, he quietly signed a bill into law on Feb. 20, revoking an Obama-administration directive that regulated the ability to purchase guns for people with mental illness diagnoses. The rule, which was finalized in December, added people receiving Social Security checks for mental illnesses and people “deemed unfit to handle their own financial affairs” to the national background check database.
But let’s not talk about it.
Instead, let’s follow in the footsteps of our president and fail to mention anything about guns or the National Rifle Association (NRA) and instead misalign the presence of mass shootings in schools and public spaces with the mental health of individuals.
Let’s not mention how it is, in fact, the normalization of gun violence through films, video games and music that associates power and masculine strength with bloodbath, that explains the prevalence of these shootings. How it is the failings of the NRA, the failings of the U.S. government in the protection of its citizens and the failings of the community to warrant an alarming discussion — do we care more about protecting one’s right to a gun or one’s right to life?
But let’s not talk about it.
Let’s pray, offer condolences and make no strides toward social reform and legal change. Let’s say we’re sorry after the fact, and continue to act surprised when AR-15s keep reappearing in the United States’ deadliest shootings.
We’ll just keep creating codes for public institutions for the proper way to react to an armed intruder. We’ll raise children in a world where their kindergarten teacher asks them to memorize what to do when they hear “Code red,” how to hide under desks, turn off the lights and keep quiet.
We’ll tell teachers that they need guns to protect our children, rather than listen to their continued opposition and educate adults instead. We’ll focus on protecting ourselves in any way possible except for turning to the source of the problem. Because we’re adults, we avoid policy change and we pretend there’s nothing we can do.
Fear is a conservative principle. Those who are afraid of change are usually afraid of something they don’t understand, and due to lack of empathy and drive, channel their fear through anger. In the cases of racism, sexism and discrimination based on sexuality and identity politics, we see anger from the people who don’t want to understand. We see rage erupting from the “alt-right” in the face of change; a monstrous, unbecoming and uninhibited response to cover for their blatant disrespect for humankind and lack of knowledge.
I believe that those who continue to argue that instilling better gun control is a detriment to their right to own a firearm forget that we no longer live in a society where using such violence as a matter of protection is consciously a normal part of life. Nor should it be. We have much greater methods of protection for ourselves, our families and our properties.
But rather than learn about something we don’t understand, and admit to our crippling levels of fear and outward rejection of things beyond our knowledge, we instill rage and hostility. We’ll continue to be the most polarized society we have ever been and ignore having conversations with people — we’ll just shout blind, blanketed statements ad nauseam instead.
So let’s ignore that this marks the eighth school shooting in the United States in 2018 alone.
Let’s not call our elected representatives and demand a legislative response.
Let’s not act as if we’ve had enough loss of innocent lives, enough torture for families.
Let’s not learn from other countries that have avoided the United States’ plague of ignorance and have found successes in strengthening their gun control, diminishing suicide and homicide rates and avoiding mass shootings.
Let’s just not talk about it.
Hannah Gulko is a sophomore majoring in human development.