The real tragedy in mass shootings

Photo Courtesy of The Washington Post

So, your country is reeling from news of a mass shooting. Don’t settle in just yet; the shooting was the easiest part. Yes, the tragic event was just the eye of the hope-crushing storm that is rushing at you. The next few weeks of incessant media coverage and insincere moments of silence will drain your faith in humanity, and at the end of it all, the shooter won’t even seem so bad.

Nonetheless, it helps to prepare for foreseeable disasters, so here are some things to expect just after the next shooting.

Prepare for the rehearsed speeches, with catchphrases like “national tragedy” and “random violence.” These, while calling for sympathy for the victims’ families, will ultimately give them nothing but unwanted flashing cameras. CNN-branded microphones will line funerals like cold steel flowers.

Politicians at every level will call for a day of national “silence and remembrance.” Today, they say, is not the day for bipartisan bickering and politics. Translation: Tomorrow certainly is.

They, too, will flock to the victims’ homes to offer their sympathies. Surely, a politician’s sorrow is somehow consoling to someone who has just lost a ten year-old.

Can anyone really view one of these displays as genuine when the “grieving senator” is unfailingly followed by ten cameras?

But wait, the worst hasn’t even begun.

Prepare for the media to learn the identity of the shooter; they won’t let you forget it.

…whether we forgive or not, America always has the magnanimity to forget.

Eric Harris. Dylan Klebold. James Holmes. Most recently, Aaron Alexis.

I can’t remember the name of a single victim, simply because, unlike the shooters, they are not treated as celebrities.

Who was the shooter?

The preceding sentence will be written with combinations of each word italicized, bolded and even underlined (looking at you, high school newspapers).

Now that the politicians’ mandatory day of mourning has passed without a breath of policy, it is time to make up for a day’s lapse with three weeks of bombardment.

Prepare to be fed with statistics and facts that, while true, have no actual meaning or importance. After the release of Grand Theft Auto IV, violent crime increased by 3.7 percent.

Meanwhile, increased consumption of ice cream on beaches is positively correlated with drowning rates, and there are 5.9 popes per square mile in Vatican City.

Regardless of the magnitude, location or circumstances of the shooting, gun laws will leap to the forefront of every political debate, and the word “freedom” will engage in an unbearably long and mind-numbing battle with the word “security.” Ultimately, neither will win.

Finally, prepare for the real, heartbreaking national tragedy: America’s attention span. After all, whether we forgive or not, America always has the magnanimity to forget.