Will We Ever Change?

Our country is broken on a fundamental level


Photo by Bryan Jimenez

On May 24, at least 19 children and two adults were murdered in a Texan elementary school. The coming days will be clinically routine. Outrage and calls to action will flood social media. Celebrities and influencers will give their opinion and condolences on the matter. Politicians will bark. Flags will be flown at half-staff. The news cycle will shine its spotlight on survivors, families of the deceased, and the motives and history of the shooter. Public interest will wither once some A-list celebrity does something mildly noteworthy and the tragedy will be reduced to irrelevancy. Rinse and repeat. Mass shootings have become so commonplace in the United States that lawmakers need to take an honest step back and think: will we ever make a change? But they won’t. And it’s our fault.

On May 14, a gunman killed 10 people and wounded three in a Buffalo, New York grocery store. The next day another shooter killed one person and injured five more at a church in Laguna Woods, California. Now, this.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 213 mass shootings this year. We are not even halfway through 2022.

Mass shootings are not only prevalent in this country, they are ingrained into our culture. Some use gallows humor to cope, but the fear of being victimized by a maniac with a gun lingers in the back of most Americans’ minds when they are going about their day in a public area.

Children can’t go to school without having to practice drills in the case of an active shooter on campus. The sound of a car backfiring is enough to send stampedes of people running for their lives.

This isn’t normal. This doesn’t happen in other countries.

Some will argue it is a gun control issue. Others will say it is a mental health issue. Both are simply symptoms of a larger affliction.

Just like our broken healthcare system, our unfair wages, our polarized politics, our vaccination and masking opposition, this is an American issue. A broken system issue. An issue of corruption that plagues the country from top-to-bottom.

Politicians are already stoking the flames of partisanship and the uniquely American perception of “freedom.”

To Senator Ted Cruz, restricting access to guns is more abominable than the blood of innocent children seeping into the carpets of classrooms. To his supporters, an unstable person’s right to own a gun is more important than a child’s right to not fear for their life on a weekly basis.

“We don’t need more gun control,” Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene tweeted. “We need to return to God.”

This is coming from the person who claimed corporate elites used a laser beam from space to spark California wildfires. The same person who harassed a survivor of the Parkland shooting and spewed conspiracy theories at them. This individual cannot be trusted to provide good-faith opinions on gun violence, let alone serve as an elected official.

Politicians like Cruz and Greene are assuredly awful. However, these types of lawmakers are not the only issue. As aforementioned, this is a top-to-bottom issue. Voters and non-voters are to blame just as much, if not more.

In cases like that of Greene, her constituents eat her vile rhetoric up. Her conspiracy theories, misinformation campaigns and provocative comments are exactly what they want in a representative.

These insurrection-supporting, immigration-hating, thin blue line flag-waving voters are simply a lost cause. It can only be hoped that their numbers continue to dwindle and their influence on the country diminishes to laughable insignificance. Thankfully, on a national and mostly even state level, they are outnumbered but are a notable problem in their ability to prop up talking heads like Greene.

Single-issue voters or partisan voters also contribute to the problem. The former, for example, may have cast a vote for Trump because, while they disliked his climate denial, xenophobia and lawlessness, they agree with him on the economy. The latter may have voted for Biden because, while they centrally disagree with him on every issue, they appreciate that he is not a Republican.

In the context of the issue of mass shootings, these types of voters empowered the lawmakers who enabled the violent occurrences to unfold without consequence.

Arguably more to blame are the non-voters. Those who unequivocally agree that gun laws should be stricter but do not play their part in electing officials who will make a change. The non-voters will not participate in elections for a variety of reasons, from apathy to laziness to a perceived sense of “nothing will change.”

To be perfectly clear, this is not a “both sides” issue. Democrats’ majority in the Senate is simply too slim to overpower the GOP’s efforts to thwart legislation.

A majority of Americans support stricter gun laws. And yet, Democrats do not have the legislative power to enact such laws.


Because Americans have the attention spans of goldfish and this week’s tragic shooting will be forgotten within days. Because the public conscious has dictated that Will Smith slapping Chris Rock is more important than a racist conspiracy theorist taking the lives of 10 people. Because Americans are disillusioned and believe posting supportive posts on social media will do more than casting a vote. Because Americans do not hold their officials accountable.

This issue goes deeper than guns or mental health. The country is fundamentally jaded.

For the people of the city of Uvalde, the terror and grief instilled by the shooting will not fade into obscurity. The halls of Robb Elementary School will forever ring with the memories of the children and teachers who never got to finish the school year and go home. The survivors and families of the deceased are suffering an incomprehensibly awful pain. Just as those affected in Laguna Woods, those in Buffalo, and those in every preceding mass shooting.

For most Americans, this agony is nothing more than an ephemeral whisper heard through the internet. Merely another statistic to add to the pile. A meaningless catastrophe that bears no weight on their shoulders.

The same parade as always will play out. People will say “this can’t keep happening!” Politicians on the left will attempt to rally their voter base and politicians on the right will feign sorrow while attacking any efforts to restrict access to guns.

A new subject will pop up that garners the country’s attention and unceremoniously minimizes interest in the tragedy and the topic as a whole.

Guns and mass shootings will not be on people’s minds during election season.

It is for this reason that change never occurs. America has decided that mass shootings are permissible by virtue of apathy. The laws and reform needed to prevent these senseless acts of violence and every other ordeal solely faced by the United States will not come about unless the people make it happen.

Therefore, the question Americans should be posing is not “will things ever change?” but rather “will we ever change?”