Umpqua: I am no longer numb
This time feels different. Not in that the horrific tragedy at Umpqua will result in definitive political action (it won’t). Not in that the traditional news cycle will largely forget this tragedy within a week (it will). And of course the usual bromides were trotted out by the usual suspects: The shooting was at a gun-free zone (it wasn’t), and those attract mass killers (they don’t). Our gun problem is a mental health problem (not really). Criminals don’t follow laws, so gun control won’t work (why have any laws?). None of that changed.
Rather, I no longer fear that we as a country risk going numb in a mute acceptance of the status quo. Why? In part because I am no longer numb.
In the nearly 3 years since Sandy Hook, the more I focused on gun violence, the more numb I became. People became statistics. I’m a data person. Numbers are what I do. Numbers are what allowed me to rattle off statistics like 92 people every day die from gunfire, and not feel anything. When dealing with statistics, I didn’t have to feel the agony of 92 men, women, and children losing their lives. Families shattered. Communities ripped apart. Every. Single. Day.
But for some reason that changed after Umpqua. Perhaps it is because when you see the faces of the dead and wounded it is impossible to see them as just another number. Maybe it is because many of the victims were around my age. Or perhaps I finally just snapped, as what was numb is now simmering rage. And over the past few days I’ve seen I’m not alone in this feeling. Rage, not grief, appears to be the defining emotion after this tragedy. And it’s not just hardened GVP advocates either.
If you feel as I and so many others do, and wish to join the fight for gun sanity, there are a myriad of ways you can act. It doesn’t matter whether you think all guns should be banned, or merely that we should institute universal background checks to stop making it as easy as possible for killers to obtain lethal weaponry. Your voice is needed. From joining a local GVP organization and actively protesting gun violence to simply staying informed and voting against proposals and politicians backed by the gun lobby, any action helps.
Don’t let the memory of Umpqua fade. Act.