In 1999, two students left the nation stunned for months after they opened fire in a high school in Columbine, Colorado and killed 13 people while injuring 24 others before turning their guns on themselves.
The massacre dominated the public sphere for months and years afterward. It was difficult to imagine a more shocking event.
Eighteen years later, it no longer even registers as one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern American history. In fact, three of the five deadliest mass shootings came in just the last year and a half and two came in just the past five weeks.
On Sunday, Devin Kelley opened fire on the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 people and injuring 20 others. Carrying an assault rifle and wearing tactical gear, Kelley carried out the fifth deadliest mass shooting in the US.
The shooting came as the country was still reeling from the deadliest mass shooting in modern history just over a month earlier when Stephen Paddock opened fire from his hotel room window in Las Vegas on a country music festival, killing 58 people and injuring over 500 others.
After both events, we were told it was “too soon” to politicize the deaths by talking about sensible gun legislation.
But the second-deadliest mass shooting was well over a year ago in Orlando, when Omar Mateen opened fire inside Pulse nightclub, killing 49 people and injuring more than 50 others.
Nothing was done.
In 2007, Seung-Hui Cho walked through the halls of the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg as he killed 32 people before ending his own life. It is the third deadliest mass shooting in US history. Nothing was done.
In 2012, Adam Lanza committed one of the most horrific acts ever as he killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. He also killed his own mother, and himself. It is the fourth deadliest mass shooting in American history. It defied all decency. Nothing was done.
All five of the deadliest mass shootings have come in the past decade. Apparently, it’s still too soon to discuss what could be done in response to the Virginia Tech massacre.
But in 1991, George Hennard walked into Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas and opened fire, killing 23 people before shooting himself. It is the sixth deadliest shooting in American history. Nothing was done.
Even earlier, in 1984, James Huberty killed 21 people at a McDonald’s in San Ysidro, California while armed with an Uzi, a pump-action shotgun, and a handgun, before he was killed by a police sniper. It is the seventh deadliest shooting in American history. Nothing was done.
Even earlier, in 1966, former Marine Charles Joseph Whitman stood on a tower at the University of Texas at Austin as he picked off 16 people and injured at least 30 others before he was brought down by police. He had also killed his mother and wife earlier in the day. It is the eighth deadliest shooting in American history. Nothing was done.
In 2015, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik opened fire on an employee party in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 people before they were gunned down by police following a manhunt. Nothing was done.
In 1986, mail carrier Patrick Henry Sherrill killed 14 postal workers before killing himself. Nothing was done.
The ten deadliest shootings don’t even include other horrific massacres that rocked the country, like the Charleston church massacre or the Fort Hood shooting. They, like Columbine, no longer even register because we’ve allowed horrific acts of mass violence to become regular events as lawmakers kowtow to the whims of the members of the NRA, one well-organized, well-funded lobbying group that claims they simply promote sporting.