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Guns, tragedy and what we are missing

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The most recent killings in Las Vegas will remain in the headlines for a while and the world will look to America as a failed leader, wondering why such violence exists in such a highly developed country. The left will renew its efforts to ban all weapons while the right will fight any and every attempt at gun control. Then we will move on from this tragedy to the one. There will be another disaster or Trump will tweet something polarizing, and along with every other tragedy, this one will be forgotten – until it becomes politically convenient for one side or the other.

Another tragedy, more senseless deaths. As the details of the massacre in Las Vegas continue to leak out, I can’t help but ask: What are we doing wrong?

In roughly 15 minutes of firing, 59 people were killed and over 500 wounded. I am not an expert; I am not familiar with guns. However, those numbers mean an incredible amount of firing.

Automatic weapons have been banned since May 19, 1986. Automatic weapons manufactured before 1986 are still legal to be sold, but only through a dealer with a Class 3 federal firearms license registered with the ATF. A ban would not have stopped this tragedy. It is also illegal to modify semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons.

America leads the world in gun violence and homicides. Why is this true? It is not because guns are readily available. There is something broken within us, within our society, because people feel that committing mass murder and then suicide is a reasonable way out. The gun part is secondary. If guns were not available, people would find some other way to commit these atrocious actions. Granted, it is impossible to stab 59 people while wounding 500 more with a knife, but there are vehicles, IEDs and other ways to kill large numbers of people. The gun is the tool, but it is just the delivery method. If we really want to address the cause of violence and mass homicide, we need to get to the person.

It is far easier to blame guns; the blame game requires no self-exploration or acceptance of responsibility. And who wants to accept responsibility for anything? We live in a time where only suckers accept responsibility.

Over the past 20-25 years, American society has become fractured. We live lives that are more isolated. We have become separated from others because of work, commutes, technology, where we live and the everyday burdens of life. That isolation we experience pushes us inward and we connect more with our unhappiness and loneliness, which potentially turns to anger and rage. We lose our identity and feel we become an extension of said isolation.

We are also becoming more desensitized to violence. From videogames to movies and even TV shows, there is no escape from violence. While these mediums may not inherently create violence, our desensitization to violence has raised our level of tolerance to what violent acts are acceptable.

For example, Kathy Griffin a few months ago held up a bloodied mask of Trump for a photoshoot. In the eight previous years, it became somewhat common to see effigies of Barack Obama being burnt. Unfortunately, social media makes incredible hate along racial, sexual, gender and political lines, readily accessible. We are experiencing a diminished threshold of what could be considered societal taboo in the expression of violence, hate and death, to those who are different or who hold different views than us.

Social media is an incredible tool to connect and reconnect with family and friends, market businesses and even create new stars, but it also has a dark side. That dark side is the slow destruction of our humanity. Social media gives us all an outlet to express ourselves, yet we rarely pause to think about those on the receiving end of our opinions. We say things on social media that we would never say to someone’s face.

However, there is someone on the receiving end of every single one of those vile, disgusting opinions and threats. That someone is flesh and blood, with a family or friends who can also be hurt. We forget that and we hide behind handles, our identities protected. We would all lack the same willingness to attack those we disagree with if our actual identities were revealed. This empathetic bleaching is leading to greater hurt and dehumanization, which breeds the sociopathic behavior exhibited in these attacks.

As sick as it is, blood sells. The media drowns us in headlines that almost sexualize violence. Images of the dead, the attack and the shooter. The media plasters their names all over the news. There’s no question that isolated loners who have fully embraced the darker side of echo chambers think that violence and mass murder are acceptable. It is entirely logical, in their sociopathic minds, to not see the victims as humans. For them, victims are the enemy who deserve to die because… pick an alienation. 

The reality is that guns are merely a tool providing the ability to increase damage. However, they are just a tool. Banning guns will not solve the problem. The problem goes far deeper than guns. The problems are societal and show how incredibly polarizing, angry and isolated life is becoming. We need to address the root of this problem or these attacks will grow in frequency and scope and the cycle will repeat: attack, prayers, virtue signaling, blame, move on, rinse and repeat.

America is among the most developed, richest and innovative countries in the world. There is no reason we cannot address the cause of these terrible attacks while also moving beyond our views and beliefs to hear and listen to the other side. Peace, life, happiness, family, love, hope, and strength are all worthy goals to come together for.

About Matt Rogers

Matt Rogers is a passionate believer in the power of small business capitalism and opportunity creation. Through his experiences in banking, international business and academia, as well as living internationally, Matt possesses a unique view of entrepreneurship, innovation, and culture and how these forces can benefit a society.

Matt currently teaches entrepreneurship and innovation in Bogota, Colombia and writes about the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation in an era of growing government regulation and corporate power. He can be reached at matt.f.rogers@gmail.com

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