Face Off: Find where a shooter became evil

I am 21 years old, and I have already lived through more mass shootings than I can count.

My generation is pretty numb to this kind of thing now. We are used to the same news coverage each time, the same response on social media — when dozens of otherwise godless politicians suddenly call for “thoughts and prayers.” We are used to the brief talk of gun control but no action.

I believe that guns are a major issue in this country. I particularly can’t comprehend why any average civilian needs access to an assault rifle, which has the sole purpose of killing in high quantity. But guns have always been around, and whether or not we regulate the sale of guns won’t matter in the end. People will still find ways to buy them, legally or illegally.

Instead, this is a human issue. There is something terribly wrong with certain people in this country. Yes, it’s an astronomically small percentage that actually goes out and starts a mass shooting, but why is this happening more and more? Where have we gone wrong?

Just 16 months ago, we woke up to news that 49 people were killed at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. This so-called terrorist act was the deadliest mass shooting in our nation’s recorded history. Last week, 59 were gunned down in Las Vegas and a new record was set.

Will we destroy the root of this terrible issue before 70, 80 or 100 people are killed at a shopping mall, a concert or a sporting event?

Nearly five years ago, we all sat by our televisions with a sense of paralyzing dread as news reporters began confirming that an entire first grade class was massacred in Newtown, Connecticut.

These were 6- and 7-year-olds, 20 children and grandchildren, senselessly shot dead in a place where they should have been safe. That day in December 2012 is still hard to grasp, and it’s nearly impossible to fathom what would drive a person to commit such an act that went beyond our worst fears.

That attack was effectively the start and end of our current gun control debate. It was the start of the conversation, but once lawmakers decided they could bear seeing 20 elementary school students murdered, that was the end of it.

If major legislation wasn’t passed at that time, we won’t see any in the near future.

So if the gun problem won’t be fixed, let’s figure out what’s driving these mass shooters over the edge.

I am particularly fascinated by the recent Las Vegas shooting. The perpetrator, Stephen Paddock, seemed to have it all. He reportedly amassed over $2 million in gambling winnings and real estate deals. Neighbors called him unfriendly, but saw nothing to suggest he would become the now-deadliest gunman in American history.

An act of such calculated violence had to have been premeditated quite a while in advance. How could someone close to Paddock, such as his girlfriend, not at least gotten a sense something bad was about to happen? And if he was just suicidal, why did he also feel the need to wipe out 59 innocent concert-goers?

There is a sad trend happening in this country. Quiet, unassuming and usually white men are being shaped into cold-blooded mass murderers.

In the case of the 1999 Columbine shooting, investigators concluded the two killers were targeting specific people: those who believed in God, or peers they had some kind of grudge against. The shooter in last year’s Orlando massacre wanted to wipe out the LGBTQ community.

But the Las Vegas shooter seemed indiscriminate as he rained death on 20,000 country music fans. It’s probably a miracle that only 59 people died.

It’s usually on us to find out why this kind of thing happens. Most of the time, the perpetrators turn the gun on themselves before anyone can ask that simple question.

We need to analyze every mass shooter in recent memory and piece together some similarities. There must be some common denominator that turns a seemingly average person into an evil one.

The problem could be the media. Instead of talking about the innocent people lost in Vegas, their families and the loved ones they’re leaving behind, all we’re seeing on the news is Paddock’s face. If the man wanted fame, he sure achieved it posthumously.

Why are we glorifying these killers? In any tragedy like this, there are always heroes. Instead of breaking down the life of an evil man, how about we discuss how thousands of people were spared?

Yes, there is a gun problem in this country. When the Second Amendment was written, guns fired one bullet and it took five minutes to reload. But there’s more to this — it takes an evil finger to pull a trigger on an innocent person.

Let’s put an end to mass shootings before one of us feels the gunfire.

This editorial expresses the minority opinion of The Rider News and was written by the executive editor, Brandon Scalea.

Printed in the 10/11/17 issue. 

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