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OPINION: Mass Shootings Are Not New to Generation Z

By Shawn Ness | February 15, 2023

Ambulance and fire department on Michigan State’s campus.

I was born in 2001, two years and two months after the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado. Columbine was one of the first mass shootings of its kind.

Growing up, mass shootings were not a new thing to me. I was born into a world where students, like myself, have to go to school not even 24 hours after the latest mass shooting (shooting at Michigan State University at the time of writing this). And don’t bat an eye.

People, often those of the older generations, ask Generation Z how we are so comfortable existing in a world like this. How are we comfortable being able to go to school, work, or the mall, right after a mass shooting has taken place? To that, I say, “this is all we know.”

There is such a large disconnect between my generation and older generations. Many of the older generations often call the younger generations “entitled,” although they often use the term in relation to younger folks’ work ethic. I think they could not be more wrong. In fact, I think they are the entitled ones. They were able to exist as children without constantly having to look over their shoulders. Without going into public places and having to make a mental note of where the closest exits are. Without going into public places and keeping tabs on individuals that look “sketchy.” They were able to exist in a world that was free of fear to exist and to complete mundane tasks out in the open.

I exist in a world where I have to do all of those things. In this world, those things are not out of the ordinary. Again, because it is all I have known.

The shooting at Michigan State claimed the lives of three people. Four if you count the shooter who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. It was the 67th mass shooting of 2023, as of Feb. 14, according to the Gun Violence Archive. We are only 44 days into 2023. That is 1.5 mass shootings a day. If we continue at this pace, there will be 556 mass shootings by the end of 2023.

Honestly, I do not see a path to end the violence. Not until organizations like the National Rifle Association (NRA) are disbanded; and not until the federal government enacts common sense gun laws.

Mass shootings are pretty much an exclusively American issue. If other countries have solved the issue, why haven’t we?

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