OPINION: I refuse to go numb

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Wow! Another day in America… I’m not even surprised at this point. What is it – April? This country has already seen 135 mass shootings, leaving more than 175 people dead and 500 injured, according to the Gun Violence Archive (GVA).  

One would think our country would make adjustments to a growing issue that saw a record number of mass shootings (647) the previous year. I don’t think these numbers are declining anytime soon based on the inevitable resurgence of violence. By all measures, it’s getting worse. Our country continues to make billions of dollars in profits from firearm sales. In our capitalistic society, we are now trading bodies for billions, which is not a fair exchange.  

Now, another community is left reeling after a female shooter took the lives of three 9-year-olds and three adult employees of The Covenant School in Nashville, TN, making Americans question once again – how can we protect our children? Why do we need assault rifles that are solely designed to kill other human beings?

Nowhere in the world is this happening more than it is here. Since Columbine in 1999, the number of lives lost, school age lives, is appalling. What’s most shocking is that this country seems to have adopted a mindset that this is normal. This is far from normal. Children are being slaughtered in our schools. 

America prides itself on being the “home of the free.” Within that freedom, we are essentially blessed with privileges most envy – privileges that come with a “sense” of security and protection. But how should one feel safe when there are nearly 20 million of these killing machines in circulation? Guns are being sold in stores all across America that are landing in the hands of teens and people who have no business with them.

I honestly don’t know any greater horror than a parent having to leave their child with essentially strangers for eight hours a day – under the presumption that everything is going to be alright and their children are safe – only then to receive a phone call that there is an active shooter at their child’s school or their child may be injured or fatally wounded. Schools are supposed to be safe environments  for learning. The helplessness one must feel in those moments has to be unbearable. 

It’s impossible to return to a “normal life” after witnessing such atrocities. The families will continuously relive the tragedy through memories of their lost loved ones, the children will walk away from a traumatizing situation and try to deal with the trauma of seeing a dead body or bodies in their classrooms, and the community will be forever haunted with a tainted past. 

Sandy Hook was allegedly a turning point. Parkland, Uvalde … the list goes on and on. These cities are forever burned into our memories and honestly there isn’t much preventing it from happening here in Jackson. All it takes is one person with a gun. One person who may be feeling oppressed, unable to gain validation from whomever, or whatever else may be the case.  

In Jackson, recent events have me asking similar questions and doubting the safety of my community.  

The unanswered questions surrounding a young lady’s body being found in the Pearl River. A group of kids witnessing their mother shoot and kill their father right in front of them on Facebook Live. Also, the heinous acts surrounding the death of Rasheem Carter. 

Can we protect our women? Are our children being exposed to too much gun violence? Can we even protect each other? 

These aren’t regular times. So often we see simple misunderstandings lead to death. This can’t be what the forefathers of this country envisioned when signing the Declaration of Independence. 

Many say it’s difficult to empathize with a situation unless it has happened to you or a loved one. Though true in some aspects, it’s important to learn from these situations and improve going forward. These numbers are truly absurd. 

We are divided on a lot of things in this country, but this is something as a collective we want to change. 

Personally, I refuse to go numb!!! Our leaders have to make legitimate changes. We gotta do better Jackson and America. 

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OPINION: I refuse to go numb

By Joshua Martin
April 10, 2023