Podcasts, Gun Control, and Me

When I was a freshman – almost five years ago now – I first got into podcasts. I had always had a passing interest in the medium, but freshman year marked my first true engagement as a listener. I downloaded the Apple Podcasts app onto my iPhone, subscribed to the few that I knew offhand, and set off into the unknown. I quickly found a place in the incipient, yet-unnamed Planet Broadcasting community, at the center of which was a podcast network centered primarily in Australia.

And now, five years later, though I have never so much as set foot in the Southern Hemisphere, I feel a close kinship with the Land Down Under. The Planet Broadcasting network has expanded to include podcasts from across the globe, and several of my favorites are put on by podcasters living in New Zealand. And though it feels foolish to mourn the tragedy of a country I have only a passing connection to, the fact is that I do.

As an American, we seem to have an unfortunately familiar claim to the tragedy of mass shootings. Ever since I was a child, the word, “Columbine,” carried a heavy connotation, though I was far too young to understand what it meant. As children in elementary school and middle school, we lived with the tacit understanding that violence could come in those places we deemed safest. Looking back at it now, it was the tragedy at Virginia Tech that seemed the turning point in our collective consciousness. Before Virginia Tech and after Columbine, there were certainly mass shootings, but the breaking-into the safe places of our childhood – the schools – seemed to put an end to any halcyon days that might’ve remained.

From that point onward, it seemed like mass shootings at places of safety – schools and churches and mosques – occurred with unsettling regularity. We’ve grown used to it – grown used to getting up in the morning to the news of another shooting or looking at our phones in homeroom to find out what happened. If anything, what happened at Christchurch proves that this is no longer an American problem – this is a global problem.

White supremacists and their ilk would have you believe that their anger is the only anger allowed; that their anger towards minorities is justifiable, while our anger at their behavior is an attack on their freedom of expression. For years, gun control advocates have tiptoed around the feelings of those who raise the Second Amendment in their defense. For years, we have tried to reason with a group of people who refuse to take us seriously. And when we snap at them, they decry us as attacking them, as though they do not relish the everyday attacks upon the minorities they target.

But anger does not belong to them alone. I have had enough of trying to maintain a level of respect of those who lack all respect for the most fundamental human right – the right to life.