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Why don’t we care about Taylor and Eli?

| Tuesday, August 28, 2018

On Sunday, two innocent people were shot dead at a Madden video-gaming event in Jacksonville, Florida, before the shooter proceeded to kill himself. An unspeakable tragedy to be sure, and yet many don’t know it happened. It hit the breaking news tabs of our major news sources until the death count was confirmed and it slipped behind “more important” things.

This column isn’t going to be emphasizing what a horrific tragedy this shooting was, in addition to all the others. I am not going to explain the reasons why we should adopt more sensible gun control policies. I won’t be providing examples of countries, like Australia, that have decided to outright ban guns and have not experienced a massacre since they did. I won’t be drawing attention to the hold that the NRA has on our elected officials and how detrimental our campaign finance model is to our legislative process.

All of that has been said. Time and time again. If you don’t believe in it now, I don’t think I can help you with that.

I just want to talk about the victims.

Their names were Taylor Robertson and Eli “Trueboy” Clayton.

Taylor Robertson was 28-years-old from Giles, West Virginia. A husband and a father to a little boy. Taylor tweeted a photo last Christmas holding his little boy who was wearing a shirt with his dad’s gaming handle on the back: “My family is too awesome.” Taylor had earned over $80,000 at tournaments just like this one; earning a living for his family.

Elijah Clayton was 22-years-old from Woodland, California. A young man whose ambition and love for the game caused him to proclaim: “There’s really nowhere to go, but up.” His family emphasized Eli’s distaste for violence and love for the game he had mastered. He had begun saving his earnings in order to attend college in the future.

No, the shooter did not use an AR-15. No, the numbers weren’t in the 10s or 20s. No, the shooter didn’t enter a high school full of innocent children.

But these lives mattered and countless lives will be affected for decades to come because of this tragedy. Taylor’s little boy will grow up without his father. Eli’s family will continue on having lost a son. It is too easy to focus on the numbers. Every life matters, whether they’re part of a major tragedy or a “lesser” one.

These massacres that plague America have disrupted our understanding of death. We don’t see them as one life, and one number. We see 17 people murdered in a school shooting as 17 people suddenly dead. Here yesterday and gone today. When in reality, one person was shot and then another and then another. Each individual life taken, one at a time.

These shootings are undoubtedly a tragedy but we don’t consider the enormous harm we are causing our society by continuing to do nothing on the issue of gun violence as what happened on Sunday will have repercussions for years to come. Hundreds of lives will be affected by the two lives that were stolen. In the end, we’re all affected. In the end, every single American shot dead through senseless gun violence is another individual stolen from every single American. This affects us all.

So, let’s stop viewing it as a body count, and start viewing each life taken as a personal attack on our society and a personal loss for every single American. Maybe if we can reframe our perspective, we can find a common ground and put an end to this violence.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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