Safe

I was talking to a business acquaintance in the US last week. He asked if we were considering moving back to the U.S. I told him honestly that when the United States had gone a year without any mass or school shootings, we would consider it. “Oh, so you’re never coming back.” he replied flatly. An American, about the same age as mine, a fellow parent, can’t imagine a United States without mass shootings. They’ve become so ubiquitous they are just a part of daily life. It made my blood run cold.

When I was younger other Jews used to ask when I was going to visit Israel. I used to say when they were at peace and get the sour response that this meant I was never visiting Israel. At the time this only reinforced my opinion that it was a dangerous country that I didn’t want to visit for fear of being victim in some random terrorist attack. As I’ve gotten older, I understand the situation better and I might consider visiting somewhere that’s not Jerusalem and, like Chernobyl, goes on my Places to Travel to After I Turn 75.

I read a statistic by a group that follows gun violence that as of January 16th there had already been 10 recorded mass shootings in the United States. That’s almost one every two days and they don’t even make the news anymore. How did this happen?

I was in my teens when Columbine happened, a weird, sad aberration. I was in my 20’s when Virginia Tech happened, another weird blip. Then I remember Sandy Hook. I remember that my niece started having shooting drills in school and being given the excuse of “Well, she IS in Connecticut…” then I started hearing about everyone having shooter drills and the amount of mass murders just kept piling up, like a first pebble that lead to an avalanche. This is not normal. This is not a problem any other developed country has. This is not a problem lacking a solution. Australia offers concrete evidence that banning military style weapons can put a stop to this pretty quick, and yet the United States does nothing. Instead they normalize it. It’s just considered a part of every day American life that you send your kids to school and know they might be gunned down instead of coming home at the end of the day. We now have survivors of mass shootings dying in subsequent mass shootings. We have children of school shooting survivors, experiencing school shootings themselves, in the same schools.

II’m only 37. It seems absurd that in my life time mass/school shootings have gone from an unimaginable horror to a part of every day life. Is this really the America everyone wants to live in? How much will be enough for the government to finally enact change?