On Monday, June 7th, Columbus City Hall was drowned in orange light against the night sky. The orange, meant to symbolize lives lost to gun violence, appeared on the tail of National Gun Violence Awareness weekend.
Additionally, authorities have begun to brace themselves for the weeks ahead: crime and violence is usually on an uptick for the summer months. And thus far, Columbus this year has seen hundreds more shootings than years past.
There is no agreement, nor is there yet a real answer, to how to bring down the amount of violence. Suggestions float abound for those who wish to carry firearms and enforce their Amendment rights, while others insist that taking away such tools prevents tragedies from happening.
Yet, even as debates fly, I believe an important point is being ignored; it is true that arguments of mental disruption exist for violent acts but there is something broader that should be addressed.
2021 has come hot on the heels after one of the most chaotic years globally, true. But the year past in the US especially has highlighted how much tension still remains between people. Unfairness and frustration cause people to lose their minds and thus begins more extreme actions than simply shouting or expressing anger: violence.
As a child, I heard often the stories left and right detailing all kinds of gun violence: Sandy Hook, Columbine, and of course plenty in the mixed basket of the previous few years. But beyond the obviously “deranged” state of the people causing these tragedies comes something deeper, and that is the real emotion.
A recent shooting that occurred in Pennsylvania from the past year spoke of a man who pulled an AK-47 on authorities after being chased from a cigar store for the most mundane of reasons: refusing to wear a mask. Obviously, the political undertones of wearing a mask are deeply explored.
But what did not come to light until after the gunman was injured was a more heavy tale: he had just lost his job and custody of his son. It’s hard to imagine myself or anyone in the exact same shoes as this man, but I very much feel the raw anger that comes behind losing a job and the ability to see your own flesh and blood.
Life, obviously, is never fair. It’s not possible to prevent every single thing that will make us throw a chair in frustration, or cry our eyes out. But as the answer to preventing violence continues to be searched for, and Columbus City Hall continues to be bathed in orange light, it’s important to always remember that behind every knife or gun is a person no longer capable of handling their anger. This is the real meaning of awareness.