Numbing the horror: Becoming densensitized to shootings

Americans are becoming desensitized to shootings


David Lienemann/The White House

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden place bouquets of flowers at a memorial for the victims of the terrorist attack at the Pulse nightclub, at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando, Fla., June 16, 2016. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

Claire Yang

People were going about their normal Monday morning routines on Oct. 2, when many settled down for a quick look at the morning news. Instead of the typical traffic and weather updates, a large, bolded headline glares at them, “50 dead and over 500 injured after Las Vegas music festival shooting.”

Only two weeks ago, the deadliest shooting in U.S. history occurred. Yet, it seems the wave of grief and anger from Americans has already subsided. People have resumed with their daily lives, and talk of the shooting has died down to a mere murmur.

Sophomore Katherine Chen expresses worry over how much violence has occurred in recent years, with this shooting coming only a few months after the horrific Charlottesville massacre.

“In the past I was younger so it didn’t really affect me as much,” Katherine said. “But as I grow older [ becomes more apparent.”

However, sophomore Kimberly Chen has noticed her reaction to shootings changing over the years. When she first heard of shootings, she was appalled at how someone could fire at and kill people they didn’t even know. Yet she admits that over the years, after multiple attacks and mass shootings, her reaction has somewhat diminished – especially with the recent Las Vegas incident.


“I wasn’t that surprised, because there are so many mass shootings going on that I’m kind [of] desensitized to everything,” Kimberly said. “Even though something really horrific happened, stuff like this happens on the news all the time now. I guess it’s just a matter of time [before it happens again].”

History teacher Cody Owens also agrees that shock factors are undeniably decreasing, but he does think that there are exceptions.

“Some people have the same reactions, and I think that the same arguments keeps recurring over and over again, where people mourn for a day, and then after the day is done it automatically goes to an argument of ‘should we be allowed to own these weapons’ or ‘shouldn’t we be allowed to own these weapons?’” Owens said. “And then it just goes into defense of that argument. It becomes kind of shameful that the people aren’t mourned accordingly.”

One of Owens’ friends was at Mandalay Bay Hotel, where Stephen Paddock opened fire on 22,000 people. Owens was worried for his friend, who fortunately returned home safely the Sunday before the entire ordeal.

Even after the hundred are dead and thousands wounded, the National Rifle Association still remains relatively opposed to prohibitive gun laws. On Oct. 5, the NRA agreed to regulating “bump stocks,” — devices that allow semi-automatic guns to work as automatic ones. Yet, it is debatable whether this will lead to a change in the use of guns in the U.S.. Freshman Zhenda Hu feels frustration towards the NRA and the current president for their lack of involvement in passing more restrictive firearm laws.

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“The government isn’t really doing much about gun laws,” Hu said. “It agitates me more to see this happen again, the government still hasn’t done much for preventing this from happening.”

After previous president Barack Obama was unsuccessful in getting an act controlling gun purchase passed, Kimberly is furious at how the NRA and current president are not changing their stance even after the latest shooting.

“The [NRA and president] should really look around and see people dying because of really loose laws for gun control,” Kimberly said. “I wonder how much more it will take to get them to pass more restrictive laws on gun control.”