Roosevelt Institute | Cornell University

Newtown Has Become "Oldtown"

By Dhruv GuptaPublished May 1, 2013

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Recent shootings in the United States have drawn the attention of the nation, its politicians and the press to a topic that is becoming all too prevalent in the "greatest and safest country in the world": Gun violence.
Recent shootings in the United States have drawn the attention of the nation, its politicians and the press to a topic that is becoming all too prevalent in the “greatest and safest country in the world”: Gun violence.

First, there is the shock. The shock and anguish as millions of American have their day disrupted by CNN and FOX breaking the news of what seems to be another case of gun violence. Yet this time, there is a change in the tone of the correspondents. Their usually charming TV personalities seem disrupted and their demeanor seems subdued. News rolls in of the tragedy that is now simply known as “Newtown.” The specifics of the incident are unbearable and, for this blog post, irrelevant. 

Second, there is the mourning. Millions of people around the world provide the families with love and support, the only currency that one can provide in a time of such grief.

Third, is the call to arms. People march down streets, sign online petitions (because those are so effective) and demand that some sort of action take place to prevent such tragedies in the future. The NRA hibernates for the winter, devising a new strategy so that when they emerge, they too can promise change that will make America a safer, gun toting nation. Irony.

Politicians demonstrate all sorts of cooperation, attending luncheons together, posing for pictures and visiting families to demonstrate their sympathy and support. And then, before you know it, everything fades away. Away from political agendas, away from front-page news, away from our memories.

I wish there was a fourth part here where I could write about how the media, the nation’s citizens and lobby groups continued pressuring our leaders to enact changes that would not delay such violence, but prevent it. Politicians argue about the complexity of the issue, the multi lateral approach that must be taken in order to offer a comprehensive solution, yet the solution never comes. Only recently, the assault weapons ban portion of a potential new gun law was removed in order to receive more support from both sides of the aisle.

What’s upsetting about this incident isn’t just the fact that dozens of children were taken away from their place on this planet at the hands of someone who could buy guns like buying candy. What’s disconcerting is that this blog post could have been written at any point within the past few years with minor variances in its specifics. Gun violence isn’t just a pandemic in the United States, it’s part of its culture. It doesn’t represent a virus that fades away after a while, it represents a parasite, thriving unabashedly, persisting and refusing to go away. Instead of looking for a cure, we as a people have decided to let those who choose to govern, those who have influence, run around Washington while making empty threats and do what politicians do best: loaf about. What we have done is absolve ourselves of any sort of enduring conscientiousness. We mourn one minute, let the news sink in the other and then proceed to become shocked when another mass shooting happens 3 months after the last one. Virginia Tech, Aurora, Oak Creek, Fort Hood and the list goes on and on. Newtown has become Oldtown.