Time to take a stand
6:00 a.m.: The time I dread every Monday. As I do on most weekday mornings, I climbed out of my bed to turn off my alarm, cursing myself for not going to bed earlier. I scrolled through my notifications to get rid of all my late-night messages from my nocturnal friends. On October 2nd, however, I noticed more news alerts than usual.
“Gunman open fires at Las Vegas concert, killing 20 and injuring more,” one headline read.
By the time I got to work only a few hours later, the death toll had risen to 59, marking it as the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
This time, I wasn’t downcast or mystified by this massacre. Instead, I was infuriated.
I’m 23 years old and my generation has already lived through the top four worst mass shootings in modern U.S. history: Las Vegas, Orlando, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook.
Within the span of a decade, hundreds of Americans have been gunned down by terrorists, and it looks like it will continue to be that way due to our Congress’ inaction to curb such senseless violence—and that has fanned the flames of my outrage.
How many children and parents, students and teachers, police officers and citizens have to be killed before our Congress passes gun reform?
When nearly 600 people get shot by one man in 10 minutes, isn’t it time to implement change?
Although the thoughts and prayers from politicians are appreciated by many, they won’t stop the next mass shooting—they’re insufficient, useless, ineffective. Despite this, that’s what most, if not all, Congressional Republicans do in the wake of mass shootings: offer thoughts and prayers to the victims’ families; denounce the violent attack; and refuse to introduce, let alone consider, any gun reform to stop another tragedy.
“Nothing will stop a madman from getting his hands on a gun and murdering people,” is what I hear from many Republicans, as well as conservative-minded individuals.
I beg to differ, as does Australia, Germany, and many other major countries.
In 1996, a gunman killed 35 people at Port Arthur in Australia. Days after the shooting, there was a bipartisan effort to pass a ban on automatic and semi-automatic weapons, which passed. Now, 21 years later, there hasn’t been a mass shooting in Australia since Port Arthur.
In 2002, a 19-year-old murdered 16 people in Erfurt, using weapons he had obtained from his gun club. Within the next year, gun reform had successfully passed in Germany, including psychiatric evaluations and anger management tests. Since then, other legislation has been passed to help diminish shooting-related deaths, such as making it harder for an individual to own multiple firearms.
And so, the argument claiming that gun reform won’t stop maniacs from obtaining firearms is flawed and misleading claim. This is especially true, considering that more than three quarters of firearms used in mass shootings in the past three decades were legally purchased, including the Las Vegas gunman.
The Las Vegas terrorist had an entire arsenal of 49 guns, 33 of which were legally purchased between October 2016 to September 2017. Not only did he purchase a range of firearms, but also a legal device called a bump stock, which upgrades guns to mimic the rapid gunfire of fully automatic firearms. He didn’t just have one bump stock—12 of his rifles were outfitted with them.
As reported, none of his purchases were illegal, as was the case with the Orlando, San Bernardino, and Sandy Hook shooters.
So, when I continue to hear that comprehensive gun reform, ranging from a semi-automatic gun ban to more extensive mental health and background evaluations, is a waste of time, I’m only further vexed by the outright cowardice of some Americans to not pursue any legislative action to save lives.
We can’t wait a day to not discuss the gun control issue—there may be more dead Americans by tomorrow, as there’s been over 1,000 mass shootings since Sandy Hook.
Still, many conservatives say that this is an unavoidable cost of our freedom and democracy. Again, I disagree. It’s been found that states with stricter gun control legislation seem to have less firearm-related deaths.
So, why the hesitation to pass comprehensive gun reform when so many of our allies have successfully done so?
Well, it’s possibly due to the National Rifle Association, which has filled the wallets of our Republican Congressmen for their cooperation. Or, maybe it’s because the Center for Disease Control is barred from conducting any research that will advocate for gun reform.
Perhaps, it’s because many responsible gun owners fear that any gun reform will be the death of the 2nd Amendment. Instead, gun reform salvages it from an outdated ideology. When the 2nd Amendment was adopted over 225 years ago, the regular firearm was a single-shot musket that had to manually loaded with powder and a ball. Today? Well, one person can spray hundreds of bullets in a matter of minutes with a legally purchased firearm and device.
As a millennial, many of us, including myself, have grown weary and distressed by this trend. We’ve found a major disease embedded in our country’s bones: gun violence and mass shootings.
The cure for it points towards gun reform—but even after 20 schoolchildren were slaughtered, our country continues to discuss the issue of gun violence, and not pass any legislation to stifle it.
Nobody wants more dead children, parents, teachers, officers, or Americans—but then many of us roll over, most notably our politicians, and do nothing to stop the next shooter from stockpiling an arsenal of weapons.
Instead of consciously living with the disease, we must treat it.
We must study gun violence in America; we must stop the NRA from buying out our politicians; we must strike down this narrative that gun reform will lead to the tyrannical destruction of the 2nd Amendment.
We need to institute comprehensive gun reform, if we wish to prioritize the collective livelihood of our nation and its citizens over America’s pro-gun obsession.
Gun reform won’t stop every evil person from obtaining a firearm, but it’s certainly more effective than thoughts and prayers. This is a sensitive topic, but change has to start with open discussion. Let’s start a conversation together.