Guns are only a part of it

  • Friday, February 23, 2018 3:34pm
  • Opinion

Guns are part of it, but it’s not just guns. There have always been guns, and there has always been anger and mental illness. It’s not video games or violence on TV and in movies either; they also has been going on long before 2010.

So what happened this decade that has led to such an increase in school shootings? They numbered in the 30s in the 1970s, then jumped to the 60s in the 1990s and 2000s. But since 2010, there have been 143, 36 in 2014 alone.

The biggest change I have seen this decade is the increased use of social media. We are all on our phones all the time. We take note of the mean comments people make to one another and the fake news that upsets us. I’m as guilty as anyone. I am on Facebook all the time, sharing my opinion, trying to “fix” the world. I’m so bad at home now that if I text someone I groan if they phone call back. A few years ago, I didn’t like texting at all. I wanted that personal interaction. Not anymore. It’s like it takes too much time. That disconnect is not good. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.

I believe in compromise but members of the two main political parties apparently do not. That has become evident in this social media era, compared with when people talked to each other. And the divisiveness between supporters of our current and previous president has added to the anger.

Since last week’s deadly shooting in Florida, I’ve been asking myself, “Why don’t we care about each other anymore?” Social media has led to some good things – such as an increase in the ability to keep in touch with people. But this column isn’t about that. It’s about the decrease in the amount of compassion we have for our fellow man that the disconnect caused by social media has added to.

Sure, many of us still donate to organizations that help the needy. But do we show just as much compassion for people who have different views? It really seems like it’s only free speech when you agree with it.

I’m a journalist to the core so I’m an Independent who loves to learn all points of views. Many others don’t share that philosophy. My liberal and conservative friends have attacked me when I try to explain there is a middle ground. I’ve even de-friended some because of their angry attacks.

Social media has led to a decrease in personal connections. That leads to an increase in ignorance, which leads to an increase in hate and a decrease in compassion. It’s like we know too much about people now – and we don’t like it. Sensitive topics that are often off-limits when talking face to face – such as politics and religion – are easily discussed on social media. Nastiness is often the result.

Another reason for the lack of compassion may come from the knowledge that in many instances folks are being scammed. We all used to feel bad when we saw a poor person at the side of the road. Now we think they just want money for alcohol or drugs. Or that they drove up from Seattle and want to take advantage of our good nature. It’s hard to have compassion if we think we are being taken advantage of.

But we need to get past those thoughts and think of the victims of these shootings. We in Marysville know the pain. We are tired of kids dying.

What we need to see nationwide, and it can start with us, is another “me too” movement. Never have we seen so many changes so quickly than with that movement. It came from the ground up. We didn’t wait for lawmakers. It came from we the people.

Before you misread me, I do believe in gun rights. But I also believe we need some restrictions. I don’t think having a license to show you know how to handle a weapon is beyond reasonable. I also don’t think banning some types of weapons is unreasonable either.

But I also believe more needs to be done for our mentally ill. Those folks have been abandoned for decades by our “caring” society. There is no way those folks should have access to guns.

But it can’t stop there. More needs to be studied on why schools are targeted. Why is there so much hate there compared to other locations? Is it because of bullying? Schools need to do better there.

Do schools need better security like other government buildings? Should there be guns safely locked away at schools just in case there is an attack? Should qualified staff be allowed to carry a weapon? Should the idea of gun-free zones be abandoned because they become easy targets?

All of those things should be discussed. Nothing should be off the table – for the sake of our kids.

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