Indifferent. Cynical. Dismissive.
It's that lack of concern from the pro-gun lobby that upsets me the most when it comes to talking about the mass shooting issue.
And let's be very clear: We have more than a mass shooting issue. We have an epidemic. So far this year, 294 shootings with four or more victims, according to the Washington Post. Active shooter incidents are on the rise: 17 in 2013. 21 in 2012. 26 in 2010. Just a decade earlier, we were looking at one to five active shooter incidents a year. Half of the worst deadliest shootings took place after 2007.
It's a trend, and it's clear that it's a problem. We need to talk about it, and when we have that conversation, the ownership of guns - just like mental health and crime - needs to be part of it.
These aren't statistics that can, or should, be easily dismissed. Death by firearm, regardless of if it takes place in a crowded movie theater or in a private home, are shamefully high in the United States. We have the 13th highest firearm-related death rate in the world, and we're posting a higher homicide rate per 100,000 people than countries such as Vietnam, Iran, and India.
Most Americans are sick of seeing these mass shooters getting the royal treatment on cable news, or seeing their faces printed in every newspaper in the country. These shooters are becoming infamous with little to no effort. They know how to grab our attention, at least for a few weeks until the next one decides to steal the spotlight. Studies are starting to suggest that this is a vicious cycle: shooters want that attention, and we are obligated to give it to them.
Every time we do that, we're provided an opportunity to address this issue. What are we going to do to stop the next guy? And every time we try to talk about it, the pro-gun voices silence the conversation.
No. Don't even talk about guns. The Second Amendment is flawless. It's my right to have them. Criminals will get them anyways. The Nazis took guns away and look what happened to them. Enough said.
That lobby is massive. You might be part of it. That's fine. But as a gun owner, it's your duty to talk about firearms and have a dialogue on how we can ensure this never happens again.
The most popular counterpoint used to silence the dialogue is by far the "guns don't kill people, people kill people" saying. It's catchy. I've tried my best to provide information on how guns make it much easier to kill people, but time after time, I'm told that guns are just tools - infallible tools that cannot be controlled by man without jeopardizing our democracy and freedom.
At the same time, gun advocates shift the attention to mental health in order to skirt the issue. It's a popular scapegoat technique: Label the killers as "psychopaths" who aren't representative of the population. Mental health causes these shootings, so don't take away my rights because I'm mentally sane.
A study published in 2015 by Dr. Jonathan Metzl and Dr. Kenneth MacLeish in the American Journal of Public Health challenges this by saying the causation is reversed: we slap the insanity tag and try to link causation after the fact. That logic is flawed, and it's overshadowing correlations that may or may not exist.
Metzl and MacLeish explain: "Insanity becomes the only politically sane place to discuss gun control. Meanwhile, a host of other narratives, such as displaced male anxiety about demographic change, the mass psychology of needing so many guns in the first place, or the symptoms created by being surrounded by them, remain unspoken."
They go on by saying that we need to "recognize that gun crimes, mental illnesses, social networks, and gun access issues are complexly interrelated, and not reducible to simple cause and effect."
In the sorry excuse of a conversation we as a nation are having now, we're doing just that: distilling complex issues into "common sense" when it's anything but. That's the crux of the issue we're having, and why I'm not optimistic that we'll find a solution anytime soon.
I'm not upset that we don't have gun control. I understand the concerns gun owners have. I'm upset that we're not even trying to stop the next one because we're just not willing to talk about it.