Mass murder remains a persistent and particularly gruesome stain on our society, yet it seems that we often only consider the individual perpetrators and not the systemic context in which such acts occur. Why does our society seem so inclined to produce such mentally-disturbed and violent individuals on a regular basis? Are there underlying issues we are collectively failing to address?
The need for concrete solutions such as banning military-style assault weapons is obvious, yet it is essential to also consider the deeper and more human causes of such tragedies. Are common themes such as hatred, resentment and violence embedded in our culture and way of life? Do our entertainment and media portrayals contribute to this culture of violence?
The answers to these questions will not be easy to grapple with, but they are necessary to consider if we are to make any real progress in confronting the systemic roots of mass murder. Moreover, in a nation which has made impressive advances in technology, might we also be able to use our collective energy to finding ways to become better human beings?
Emmett Till’s mother’s example is a reminder of the power of making the public see the horror of the reality of what happens when guns are used. Showing the shocking images of mangled bodies has had a significant impact on the community in the past and has changed people’s minds. Could this strategy be considered as an attempt to provoke a more meaningful action and shift in attitudes towards gun control?
It is encouraging to see people in Israel and other countries take powerful action in opposition to their governments. Can the same passion be applied in America to protest against gun control? We must recognize that students and young people are often the victims of these horrible acts, and it is people at the grassroots level who must come together and demand change.
The National Rifle Association is often targeted as the primary opponent of gun control, yet it should be noted that former NRA members have spoken out for tighter gun laws and for enhancing safety for all involved. In terms of finding common ground and finding practical solutions, it is necessary to have all stakeholders at the table, from high-level politicians to members of the public whose lives are affected by gun violence.
Given the sheer scale and horror of these repeating tragedies, there has never been a greater need for us to confront our collective failings and to come together as a nation to address these underlying issues. We can never bring back the lives that have been tragically cut short, but lasting change will only come when all of us concerned citizens take a stand, engage in thoughtful conversation and refuse to turn away from the problems in our midst.