Dadeville mass shooting: Cyclical American tragedy hits new low

“This is incomprehensible.”

Four people were killed and 28 were injured after a suspect opened fire on a group attending a birthday party in Dadeville, Alabama on April 16, 2023. (Credit: YouTube/WTVM)
Four people were killed and 28 were injured after a suspect opened fire on a group attending a birthday party in Dadeville, Alabama on April 16, 2023. (Credit: YouTube/WTVM)

My eyes spoke for me as I struggled to watch the T.V. yesterday. We’ve all witnessed mass shootings in the U.S. and abroad but I never recall seeing the devastation of such a small American community the way I did on Sunday.

It was supposed to be a birthday celebration… a birthday!

The images of the crime scene in Dadeville, Alabama — the tears and sadness — and perhaps more confounding, the ‘why?’ It should have been a sprite Spring Sunday but April 16, 2023 will now be etched in U.S. history as yet a new “Bloody Sunday” in Alabama. And much like the Bloody Sunday of 1965, the brutality will be forever remembered for what it was and will always be: senseless violence.

Yesterday, a town with a population of just over 3,000 changed forever. For me, the worst reckoning of the jolting realization of how quickly an entire town can be ripped apart is that Dadeville, an ostensibly loving and tight-knit community where everyone knows each other, is a small southern town that resembles the innumerable tiny bedroom communities across the United States. This disaster could have been anywhere because America doesn’t just have a gun problem, it has an infestation.

There are an estimated 393 million guns in the U.S., which averaged more than one firearm per person, according to Small Arms Survey. Perhaps it’s understandable as well then that in the great US of A, more people died of gun-related injuries in 2020 than any other year on record. That figure accounts for gun murders and suicides. In fact, in 2020 there were 45,222 deaths from gun-related injuries in the U.S., according to CDC statistics.

As clear as the gun problem has been to most Americans, the aftermath of the “incomprehensible” disaster I watched yesterday presented a paradox I wrestled with accepting: how do we make sense of the senseless?

Attached to my iPhone, searching for updates throughout the afternoon, I endured the same stomach-churning sickness as last year’s mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, which is approaching its one year anniversary next month.

Fueling the paranoia: tight-lipped police with “official” information and no suspect in custody. In fact, as of 2:27 p.m. today, the suspect is still on the loose.

There is so much we don’t know about the Dadeville mass shooting, but it’s beyond time to get serious about addressing the factors that contribute to mass shootings.

Mass shootings in America — for which we have had more than 140 so far this year — have often been motivated by hate, revenge, and mental health crises. The argument has been made that mental health plays a role in any mass shooting, yet we find ourselves trapped in a vicious cycle that has virtually no end in sight.

Addressing America’s gun issue will begin with Americans in every home, not just at the federal or state level. I’m still not quite convinced that enough Americans, as exasperated and exhausted as we claim to be with America’s mass shootings, are willing to lobby Congress to enact sensible gun laws anytime soon.

I am not against gun ownership, but considering the statistics, at this point we can admit an end to shootings in America would be like eradicating illegal drug sales. I also think many Americans have become desensitized, not just to the mass shootings but the very sight of guns. Congress needed to act on “sensible” gun legislation decades ago — standard background checks, higher age limits, semi-automatic weapon bans — but if your children are being casually exposed to guns and heavy artillery, so do you.

We have a responsibility to ourselves and our children to protect their minds and bodies.

Nothing should be confusing about that.