Editor’s note: modern humanity

I don’t usually write about national events in this space, but nothing else feels more important.
There have been 187 days so far in 2022. There have been 322 mass shootings in the u.s. so far in 2022
According to gunviolencearchive.org/reports/mass-shooting as of July 7, 2022

I don’t usually write about national events in this space, but nothing else feels more important.

As I sit at my desk the day after the deadliest school shooting in nearly a decade occurred in Uvalde, Texas, my compounding anguish over the last several months is turning into numbness. Nineteen children and two adults at Robb Elementary School. Ten people at a supermarket in a predominantly Black community in New York. Those lives were lost in mass shootings among more than 60 others in the month of May alone. Those are counted among more than 200 U.S. mass shootings in 2022 so far.

We’re all asking why, and we’re angry. The devastation felt for the parents and families and for the lives cut short is overwhelming. Equally overwhelming is the resulting news cycle and social media conversations that demonstrate the human instinct to explain and fix the problem.

Modern civilization is only about 6,000 years old — we’ve gotten a lot right but also a lot wrong in that short period of time in the grand scheme of the universe. Throughout human existence, we’ve come up with rules and standardized ways of doing things to bring order to our lives. With the passage of time, the hope is that we’re doing it a little better than the year before.

Just five months shy of the 10-year mark since The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, we are nowhere closer to fixing a problem that has caused immense individual and collective suffering.

Any statistic can be framed or skewed to pinpoint a solution or argue about an issue, including gun control. It can be dizzying to know what to believe, who to listen to, how to think and what that says about you. I’m finding the most clarity when I come up for air from online arguments and accusations of pushing political agendas, and instead rely on my instincts that point to self-evident truths: Children and teachers shouldn’t be dying at the hands of mass shooters in classrooms, and no one should live in fear that they will be gunned down in a public place.

My numbness fades when I catch glimpses of the humanity we’ve carried with us since the beginning. I see the look of panic on a parent’s face who doesn’t know if their child is dead or alive. I see the support groups and loving efforts that envelop the brokenhearted. I see journalists struggling after having to write another harrowing headline, or ask impossible questions of sources in their darkest moments.

That’s when the answers seem clear to me, based on a very basic lesson: If something isn’t working, try something else.

I refuse to believe these horrors will just happen no matter what we do. I think it’s outrageous to believe the best course of action is being reactive instead of proactive about guns getting into the wrong hands by putting more guns into more hands to protect schools in particular.

Ban semi-automatic rifles for civilian use. Require background checks and permits for all firearms. These changes seem necessary and obvious to me, in addition to making mental health care more accessible. I hope the members of our American government who refuse to make these changes are big enough to admit when they’re wrong and forfeit their ill-begotten power. There are many examples from other countries that have solved this exact problem. I want to believe, I have to believe, that our 6,000-year-old civilization and 246-year-old country is smarter and better than this.

Footer that says Subscribe with covers of Madison Magazine