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Grand Theft America

In the year 2013 alone there have been five mass shootings in the United States that have resulted in a combined death toll of thirty people. Most of those incidents that occurred within the past year were reported on national news, but how many of those five stories did we actually care about? I am not asking this to downplay what happened or trying to sound insensitive, but to get to the bottom of this chronic desensitization that the American public has developed towards gun violence.

It seems as though the only acts of violence that grab mass attention are the ones that involve bigger, deadly weapons and shocking motives. Maybe this apathy is somewhat related to today’s media preferences. Every month it seems there is a new video game or blockbuster that features guns, explosions, murders, and kidnappings. The images that come from these violent sources may be what is brainwashing the public to believe that these images are normal.

I’m not writing to make the assertion that video games and movies cause gun violence (because I am a fan of both and that would just be hypocritical), but merely to demonstrate that there might be a correlation between them and how commonplace all of these tragedies seem to be in our culture.

Maybe this apathy is somewhat related to today’s media preferences.

Within the past month the latest installment of the Grand Theft Auto video game franchise was released and many avid gamers scrambled to their nearest Gamestop to purchase it and play it for hours on end. The actual plot, for those who have never played, is complicated but it mostly involves elements such as car jacking, explosives, gun violence, and heists. While playing this video game it is easy to get sucked into the fictional world and embrace the violence that the gamer is controlling through the push of a few simple buttons. However, by participating in this mayhem it has the ability to make the player feel as though violence is common.

I do not mean to say that someone thinking that violence is normal also means that they also think it is acceptable, but there is a negative aspect to not being surprised by it anymore. If we get to the point in our indifference where we do not even bat an eyelash at a news report of a school shooting that left five students dead what does that say about humanity? We need to represent a culture that is proactive and does not sit idly by while person after person takes the lives of innocent civilians for one reason or no reason at all. By having more of a general concern towards these acts maybe we can slow down the rate of them to a point where if even one happens the country is brought to its knees.

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