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Watercoolers, School Shootings, and Apathetic Gamesmanship

School shootings bring out all kinds of reactions. Some folks immediately seek to speak on gun rights, and how guns don't kill people, people do. Some folks focus on the murderer(s). Why would they do this? Were they sick in the head? And some only speak on the victims and the lasting emotional/physical trauma that has been inflicted.
 
About three weeks ago, there was another mass shooting in Kentucky at Marshall County high school. This shooting came up in my office break room. I just kind of walked in on the conversation and I agreed it is ridiculous we've already had (at that time) a little over 20 mass shootings since the beginning of the year. One co worker looked away, saying,"You need to double check your sources. They're actually counting shootings with just bb guns in those numbers."
 
I tried to explain that I only use federal numbers, but she continued on the same tangent.
 
Look, I get it. There's a lot of bullshit news in the world today. But, if you're going to make a claim that the numbers being cited by the news from governmental reports are bogus because they are using bb gun assaults in with mass shootings, maybe think for two seconds that you might want to check YOUR information since there are multiple sources out there who track their own data. This co worker has also called gun ownership a "god given right" on several occasions. So, this is confirmation bias at play, and I'll tell you how I know this.
 
I looked up her fucking claim.
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The only source busted for padding mass shooting numbers is shootingtracker.com. Supposedly, according to this pro NRA website(http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2015/10/foghorn/shootingtracker-com-uses-pellet-guns-to-boost-mass-shooting-numbers/) that published the article she must be referring to, this shootingtracker.com site is "is maintained by a small group of rabid anti-gun activists". Okay, so much for unbiased reporting. With this allegation, I started looking for the articles that mainstream news agencies were "too lazy to do their own research, they have begun relying on advocacy websites like ShootingTracker.com". 
Not a single msm quoted shootingtracker.com. Her website source calling bullshit? Is full of bullshit. Well, more like pandering to ease-your-conscience-about-your-right-to-kill-others-if-threatened-over-a-parking-space-at-Walmart.
 
With that said, I know there had to be a source out there that has been quoted and people didn't bother to double check the information. And there was. There was another site that stated that this past Wednesday's school shooting in Florida was the 18th school shooting of the year. Technically, that is correct....by their standards...which are clearly stated on the website. This organization is called Everytown for Gun Safety, and they have a clearly defined parameter for what they consider a school shooting:
 
“any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds.”
 
A death does not have to occur. An injury is not required. It is simply a firearm being discharged on school grounds. One cannot say they are misleading as they have their shooting parameters clearly stated on their site for all to see. It isn't their fault the average American is too lazy a shit to bother with reading the organization's process. And that last statement includes Bernie Sanders. What a moron.
 
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Something my coworker can't seem to get her head around is that it isn't bb guns making the statistics of mass shootings so hard to get a handle on. It's the ever changing definitions that Congress uses, which makes incidents seem even more frequent on a smaller scale. The government's meddling with definitions of what constitutes a mass shooting to manipulate numbers for their agendas is what contributes to our ever growing apathy and normalization of gun violence. How about we drop the word mass, and just evaluate gun violence as a whole in schools and other soft target venues? Instead of looking to nitpick at the count of "school shootings" or "mass shootings" this year, why not just look at how many shootings take place in schools. Does it matter if it is 24 dead at once or 24 dead over a one month period? To me, it doesn't.
 
When did the body count in a single instance become the standard for concern? There have been a total of 30 mass shootings in the US this year. What's considered a mass shooting? Depends on the agency you go by. I go by the FBI's definition, which is:
 
"FOUR or more shot and/or killed in a single event [incident], at the same general time and location, not including the shooter."
 
This means of those thirty shootings, three of them were on school grounds if you bother to look up the locations where all the shootings have taken place so far. But this whole diatribe brings me back to that break room conversation. I let it ride, and didn't argue as I didn't feel it was appropriate to get political at work. I've only been there a few months now. I just assured her I check my resources, and let her feel like she had her victory of reason.
 
Fast forward to this morning.
 
She comes rushing into my office to apologize if she sounded dismissive the other day. I was in the midst of doing payables and was completely bewildered what she was going on about. She then starts to explain that, "With the shooting yesterday in Florida. I still think taking away guns isn't the answer. The system is broken. Mental health is neglected in this country. And I wish they would let veterans bet there as resource officers." She continued for a few minutes, very rushed and determined to shore up her earlier arguments from a few weeks ago that I hadn't given another thought. 
 
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It's mind blowing. She couldn't take a moment to just speak on her feelings as a parent to how tragic it must be for the victims and their parents right now. She just wanted to get into debating the politics of it. I just assured her that whether he had a gun or knife, someone was going to die that day, but we have a major systemic failure where we do not put any money into our system for prevention. She seemed disappointed that I didn't agree with her assessment that a resource officer was the answer. More "good guys" with guns. I could have drudged up the reality that where there is a gun, the chances for an incident triple. I don't think I could have gotten her to understand our culture encourages an almost Hammurabi code. An eye for an eye. A life for a life. And in today's age, rejection for a life. Your life for someone's frustration in life. 
 
When you live in a society that glorifies a deity that supports this type of ideology, you breed this as a cultural norm until it hurts innocents. Then you scapegoat mental health issues. How much of this is mental health though? I find myself thinking if we didn't set unreal expectations on the behalf of a god like figure, and use threats of torment and failure to enforce this concept, could we have less of these incidents in our society? Our culture revolves around the idea that not only will you be punished for sin in the after life, but while you walk the earth, this god's followers are empowered to punish on his behalf. We live in a society where it is perfectly acceptable to shoot first simply for feeling your life is at stake, regardless if this is the reality of the situation. We have large groups of religious organizations who scream that an unborn child is a life and abortion is murder, but they will turn right around and support discriminating against that unborn child years later when they find out the child is gay.  Even if it is their own.
 
And it is all justified whether by scripture or their misinterpreted analysis of what the Constitution stands for. As long as it confirms what they believe, it passes as truth. 
 
On the other side of the table, I have been already approached with the latest school shooting being a false flag. The fact that people can say that a school filled with over 3000 students alone could pull off a fake shooting incident without anyone being the wiser...including the students involved...needs to go back under their rock of denial. Just no time for your nonsense. I'm sorry you feel the need to get your authority by dismissing the tragedy of others, but you have no real voice in the conversation unless you attend that school or have to pick up your child's body riddled with bullet wounds. 
 
America has a culture of retribution guised as consequences, cased in brass. No amount of mental health spending, gun restrictions, or increased number of armed "good guys" will be effective until we change how we place value on punishment over solution.

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