Overkill

Sometime in the not too distant future:

“How was school today?” I asked my granddaughter.

“Today was a good day. No one got shot,” she answered smiling. 

She’s in kindergarten. I’d worry about her more if she were in middle school or high school, but I still worry nonetheless.

“Were you wearing your bullet-proof backpack?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Good girl.”

My cell phone rings. My wife is calling.

“I’ll be home earlier than I thought,” she said. “There was a shooting at my workplace so the store had to close.”

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” she said.

“Great! I thought I’d take you to our favorite place for dinner tonight.”

“The restaurant hasn’t opened up yet after last week’s shooting.”

“We can just stay in again then,” I said.

“Okay, I’ll be home soon,” she said.

“Isn’t your nail appointment this afternoon?” I asked.

“The salon is closed because of a shooting.”

“I thought they re-opened.”

“They did, then the second shooting happened,” she said.

“Right, I forgot. I’ll see you in a few minutes. Remember to duck and cover when you run from the driveway to the porch.”

“I’ll bang on the metal roller cover if I make it to the front door,” she said.

“Okay, I’ll be listening for you.”

::beep::

“I have another call coming in, I’ll talk to you later,” I said.

::beep::

My son’s number popped up on my phone screen.

“Hey son, I thought you and your family were going to the mall today,” I said.

“The mall’s closed because of a shooting. Besides, I had to work later than usual. The news station sent me on location to do a follow-up report on yesterday’s nightclub shooting,” he said. 

“The one with the 12 victims?”

“No, the other one. The one with only 10 casualties. There were some local ties so the news desk thought it would be good for ratings.”

“That’s too bad. I know your wife was looking forward to going to the mall.”

“Yeah, at first she was pretty upset. She really wanted to get a new dress for the wedding we were invited to, but our plans changed when she got a call from the bride. The celebration is postponed for security reasons. A disgruntled ex-boyfriend threatened to shoot up the reception so everything’s on hold for now. Since our mall trip is cancelled, I think we’re just going to take the kids to the park,” he said.

“The parks are still closed because of Thursday’s playground shooting,” I reminded him.

“I forgot about that. I’ll talk to you later. And please be careful if you go grocery shopping today. Remember to wear your kevlar vest,” he said.

“No worries. I won’t be going today anyway. The stores are all closed because of the –well, you know.”

“Okay. Love you. Bye.”

::click::

I never want to be comfortable with this scenario. I watched a television psychologist trying to explain the unimaginable horror of mass shootings. He wanted people to know that becoming desensitized to the situation is a coping mechanism. I have to constantly remind myself not to become numb to the gun violence that has erupted in the last few months. In the past, I would change the channel when news reports displayed the gruesome details of the latest shootings. Today, mass shootings are so commonplace there’s no escaping them.

Sadly, even the media can’t keep up with their own breaking stories. After multiple shootings in Tennessee, a local news anchor mixed up live footage of a response to one shooting with footage of the police response to another in Knoxville. She couldn’t keep track of which shooting the helicopter correspondent was reporting on. She then interrupted herself saying, “Oh, this is live. Ah, gotcha. I forgot about the other shooting.”

The multiple mass shootings of the past two months have taken an emotional toll on me. I hate to even write about it because I have no solution to offer. I’m exhausted from it and outraged by it. I don’t know when the current streak of violence will end, or even if it will seriously be debated in the public arena. Doctor Fauci has now addressed the issue because mass shootings have become a major health crisis of epidemic proportions. When added to the viral pandemic we’re fighting, society’s ability to cope has reached a breaking point. I hope somewhere someone in a medical lab is working on a vaccine to end gun violence. Cures have been found for many other life-threatening ailments. Let’s hope there’s a cure for this one as well. 

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