Virginia Beach Municipal Center Shooting beckons another discussion of gun control

Will McCracken

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As long as I can remember, “shooter drills” or internal lockdowns as described by the school, have been a part of my experience within the school. Something ordinary, something I could expect to happen a few times each passing school year. Each time one of these drills happened, the teacher would turn the lights off, the students would sit in the corner, and silence would come over the classroom until the drill finished. Sometimes I thought about how vulnerable we all were. I knew that if the shooter picked my class to assault, there probably wouldn’t be much stopping him from killing everyone in the classroom, as has happened in Sandy Hook, then Parkland. Between these realizations, the lack of legislative action, and the continuous mass shootings I, and many of my peers feel helpless and vulnerable.

 

Last Friday, 12 people were killed at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center. A notification appeared on my phone. I didn’t think much of it, but as details were released it became clear that this was an unusually devastating blow to our community. Or at least it should have been.

 

A previous incident at Naval Air Station Oceana had made the trending list a month earlier with only one person being injured, so I did not think much of seeing Virginia Beach on for a second time, as no details had come out on the severity of the shooting at that time. Once I understood the full scale of the event, it was very disheartening. The problem of mass shootings has become a reality of everyday life in America, without much regulation or change, and now what was a problem for our country, has infected our own community.

 

On the same day as the mass shooting was Patriotic Fest, a country music festival held annually at the Oceanfront, and it became shockingly clear how normalized these acts of violence have become in our society. Hours after the shooting people were partying and singing along to their favorite country songs without a care in the world. We moved on FAST.

 

Social media is a grim reflection of our collective flaws after tragedies like what happened Friday afternoon. Immediately, users scurried to post something on Instagram condemning the attacks or otherwise offering their two cents on the topic. THESE POSTS ARE UNNEEDED AND UNWANTED.  Often, users rush to post, despite a lack of details on the event, offering almost no valuable information to the conversation. Similarly, ¨thoughts and prayers¨ posts and your posts calling for gun regulation immediately after the shooting are unneeded and unwanted. The ¨Thoughts & Prayers, Likes & Shares” culture that has stemmed from America’s mass shooting epidemic. If everyone who posted would work to elect politicians actually interested in making the appropriate changes, then I would understand. With the rush to post to social media, people move past solving the problem, mass shootings, and often move past the tragedy in short time without contributing anything toward a solution to the gun violence that our community has now been faced with.

 

Wearing blue T-shirts won’t make our problems disappear. It has become the norm to look for unity in the wake of events like this, no matter how meaningless. A T-shirt cannot bring back the victims to their loved ones. A T-shirt will only give us a brief facade of unity. Using unity as a coping mechanism doesn’t work when we still haven’t addressed the issue.