Mass public shootings should NOT be the new "normal."
Along with rest of the world on August 26th, I stared at my computer screen horror watching the final minutes of 24-year-old Alison Parker's life.
The flood of dread that washed over me while viewing the footage wasn't due to the graphic nature of the actual shooting; it was from knowing that when Parker woke that morning, she had no idea that instead of covering the news, she'd be an international headline story in the most heinous way possible.
My arms were covered in goosebumps the shooter's camera crept up to the trio filming the fluffy feature piece for WDBJ morning show. Like I was watching a horror movie, I wanted to yell at the oblivious bystanders that hell was about to erupt.
But the image that really caused me to lose sleep was the look of horror on Alison's face.
The dumbfounded expression of in-studio Kimberly McBroom only added to the gut-wrenching footage. Sickeningly, the entire world could watch her reaction on replay, as she unexpectedly watched her coworkers be executed on live television.
Yet, as I was reading the outpouring of reactions to the New York Daily News cover story, something occurred to me: Why was it that only an act of gun violence involving an element of shock caught the attention of the masses?
This was the first time since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012 that an incident involving guns struck a nerve. In between these two massacres, there have been countless public shootings that have been reported, but we've seem to have grown used to it.
Our country has become desensitized to the mass public casualties. Just the fact the phrase "typical public shooting," exists at all is beyond disturbing.
Throughout my entire life, acts of violence and gun-wielding maniacs have been nothing out of the ordinary. When the shooting at Columbine happened, I was 9 years old and vividly remember watching the news footage on CNN.
As images of sobbing students running from their high school aired on our television set, my parents tried to answer the questions I had. Why didn't the killers go to their parents if they were upset? Did the kids who get shot feel a lot of pain? Could this happen in my school?
Constant coverage of the post-9/11 world was inescapable, and part of everyday life. Almost daily, the formula of reported news was identical: shootings, terrorism threats, Afghanistan War, economic trouble.
Eventually, mass casualties caused by public shootings became white noise during news broadcasts. The faces of the victims would appear on screen as a headshot or from a happier time then fade to the next new item.
And while each massacre stirred up the hot button issues of gun control and mental health in the United States, it would eventually settle down for a few months ... until we'd hear of another new slew of victims.
This is the way of America, I thought while watching yet another segment.
Staring at Alison Parker's face as she stared down the barrel of the gun was a wake-up call. The common occurrence of gun violence should not be something that's ingrained into the culture of our country.
If every American who was horrified by the on-air murders contacted their local legislation or took action to support gun control organizations, imagine the shift in conversation that our country would experience.
Surely there are children who saw the Alison Parker screenshots from the cover of the New York Daily News, and are asking their parents tough questions. But their curiosity and questioning shouldn't make us afraid.
What would be more terrifying is if our upcoming generation saw the face of Alison Parker in her final moments and asked nothing, accepting that it's the new normal.
This article was originally published at Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission from the author.