by Patrick Storck
This is written in the hours immediately following the Columbia shooting, because there is no longer a “too soon” to discuss tragedy. There is only a too late. I, of course, mean on one hand that prevention would have been preferred, but I also think the window of time before empathy turns to apathy once again is dangerously short.
Details are still not confirmed on the incident, and at the press conference held by the police there were photobombers. People smiling, waving at the camera, and wandering through the shot on their cell phones while the blood was still pooled on the floor inside.
The discussion has ended in this country on gun control. The shouting remains on all sides – blame guns, blame mental illness, blame poverty, blame anyone but yourself and the facet you want to leave unchanged. I suppose on a grander scale, it’s true that in and of themselves “Guns don’t kill people.” But people have less and less restraint in killing each other in this country. Always a problem globally, but let’s concentrate on the trend here.
Mental illness was casually thrown out as the real problem within an hour of this incident. It now seems it was an argument over shoes. This isn’t a treatable affliction. There’s no guidance counselor who can spot a troubled youth as being dangerously materialistic. Mental illness absolutely needs to be better addressed in our society, and the stigma of any mental disorder needs to go away so people who may feel they need treatment don’t avoid it, but it’s not the whole picture.
In Baltimore City there have been 18 homicides this year already. The national news is reporting the Columbia Mall shooting as happening in a “Baltimore Suburb.” Ignoring how much Howard County (and many others) despise their tax dollars going to the city, let’s accept that for a broader concern. 18 deaths in a troubled city and it is treated as expected losses, cities are dangerous, especially those working class ones. A planned community for the middle to upper class is affected by violence? Some of those victims weren’t obviously drug dealers, because look where they live!
People are being killed all over, every day. These stories drift right out of our consciousness because they are less and less shocking. Fence posts along the road, one after another until you don’t even see them anymore. I am ranting on the bigger truth because I was not personally affected by this incident. Others will casually drop some talking points, pass on broad condolences, or move on without a word. The people who died today are statistics for almost everyone. But for the friends and families of those who died, things have changed forever. Are we going to wait until an incident truly rips each of our lives to do something, or can more of us get back into really looking for a solution?