Wednesday, October 23, 2013

this is the new normal.

It's frightening, and it ought to be, how something as previously unthinkable as school shootings have become the new normal. (And as I write this, a banner reading "Breaking News" flits across the CNN homepage, linking to this.) How many of us have even registered the latest incident in Sparks, Nevada? Among my Facebook friends, I was the only one who made a comment about it Monday, and that was to link to the story as it was happening and the comment that it had become the "new normal," a knee-jerk reaction on my part to the number of almost-weekly incidents.

This is what we know so far.  A seventh-grade student at the middle school in Sparks showed up for school with a Ruger 9mm semiautomatic pistol that police believe he brought from home and shot another student outside the school in the shoulder. Mike Landsberry, a math teacher at the school, ran to confront the student and was himself shot. The student then shot another 12 year old in the abdomen before shooting himself in the head. Landsberry and the shooter died at the scene, while the other victims are expected to recover. The district attorney's office is considering charges against the shooter's parents for access to the weapon.

As has also become distressingly normal in these situations, the amount of information we have available in the days immediately after they happen is also slight. In an era of 24/7 news, in which the new normal is to turn on CNN or Fox or go to a website for information as soon as we hear of something, the frustration we feel when someone tells us "We just don't know" in response to the natural question why did a 12 year old boy shoot other children at his school is also the new normal.

Many of us thought, after the shootings in Newtown, that substantive actions would be taken to curb gun violence. They were not. One interpretation of an individual's Constitutional right has been allowed, through inertia and incredible financial backing, to trump public safety. Mounting numbers of dead from school shootings is not the new normal. The new normal is our willingness to accept them.

UPDATE: This is the situation to which CNN's Breaking News alert referred.

1 comment:

  1. As a society, it very much appears that we have decided in a costs/benefit analysis that there is more benefit to supporting the current Supreme Court's interpretation of the 2nd Amendment right for everyone to own guns than there is children's lives.

    Sort of like the cost of construction-- every year people die during construction but we continue to build new buildings. I know it seems a callous analysis, but that I think is what has taken place. Or the Ford Pinto analysis... which might be more on par here, but at least they did the math. We're just burying our heads in the sand and avoiding it.

    That said, I'm not terribly surprised at it. I've been of the opinion for years that we are more concerned with sounding concerned about the kids than acting or spending in ways that match the platitudes coming from our society's mouth.