Public forgets mass shootings, reports become commonplace

Typing in “mass shootings in 2013” in Google yields various lists of how many shootings there have been over the past years.

CNN talks about the 25 deadliest mass shootings in the U.S. from 1965 to present.

Huffington Post lists 20 mass shootings in 2013 and adds direct quotes from President Barack Obama, if there are any.

A Reddit page called “Guns Are Cool” lists all the mass shootings in 2013, determining a “mass shooting” as one in which at least four people are injured.

Getting to the bottom of that list requires about four complete swipes on the trackpad of my laptop.

When mass shootings become less of a shock and more of an extra bullet on a list, that is how we know we have become numb; we become an indifferent, passive audience.

People still care about mass shootings. It is in touch with our human nature to be impacted and concerned. We see this as soon as people start tweeting about how terrible these incidents make us feel. We purse our lips, furrow our brows and think about how good we have it. We call mom and ask her if she’s been watching the news, and then we tell her about it anyway.

The entire country falls into line when a mass shooting occurs.

We post “Pray for our victims” on Twitter and Facebook; we discuss the shootings in class and at work; we watch the news unfold on CNN all day; then, we wake up the next day and resume our life.

We care — we truly do. It’s not about caring. It’s about how easy it is becoming to forget. It’s about how mass shootings are becoming so “normal” that our reaction has instinctively become, “Another one? Wow.”

You know there is a national issue when the format of a mass shooting article begins to look familiar. There might have been a time when writing a mass shooting story would have been the biggest, most intimidating article in a journalist’s career. It seems that is no longer the case.

Maybe someone’s first time covering a mass shooting will be big and intimidating. The next time a mass shooting happens, that journalist will know what to do. He will have had first-hand training. If recent history is any indicator, there will be another mass shooting for him to cover.

It is okay to resume your life. You were not at the mass shooting. You didn’t know anybody there. To you, it is just something that happened — a terrible, terrible thing that happened to someone else.

The frightening part is that the aftermath of hearing about a mass shooting has become a monotone, practiced, comfortable routine. Less and less people are stopping to say, “let’s do something about this.” No one will do something about mass shootings when they sink deeper and deeper into the norm.