The Epidemic of Mass Shootings in America

A Conversation about Guns

Two Common Talking Points:

Critics against gun control say “guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”

My response: While it is true that people are ultimately responsible for the heinous acts of mass murder, it doesn’t mask the fact that the amount of damage done by a knife is not the same as that of an assault rifle. The proliferation of guns in American society has led to this mass shooting epidemic up until the point that 59 people losing their lives in Las Vegas on October 1st, 2017 did not spur action for change. Until now, until Parkland, when it is high school teenagers who have to do the work that adults are not doing.

Second Amendment rights are inalienable.

Tell that to the parents who lost their children in Parkland. Tell that to the children who survived that shooting and may be traumatized for life. Tell that to the families of survivors who would have to comfort them in this time. Yeah, your second amendment rights are more important than the rights of children to live.

Parkland, Florida. Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Fl. Virginia Tech. Las Vegas, Nevada. How many shootings do you need America before you wake up and see that this is not normal?

Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany … all developed nations that do not have the same problem with guns as the USA. The reason? The right to bear arms is not enshrined in the constitution. Now, I’m not calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment. What I’m advocating for is responsible gun ownership. It’s going to be impossible to take back the 300 million guns that are in circulation. So why not advocate for stricter rules regarding the usage of guns and the purchase of new guns?

There needs to be a cultural shift too. Lives need to be given a priority over the interests of powerful interest groups like the National Rifle Association (NRA). Thoughts and prayers are meaningless to the victims who’ve survived and the families of the victims who are grieving. Gun control may not bring back the Parkland victims or the Sandy Hook first graders or the people enjoying a concert in Las Vegas, but it can prevent future tragedies. It can prevent more shootings from happening, more families losing their loved ones.

It’s time for Americans to say, “enough is enough”. Fix the NICS system, which contains background information for all citizens. Pass legislation that allows law enforcement to confiscate guns of suspected mentally ill people or people who may be about to act on violent tendencies, according to tips received from family members [Florida shooter was reported multiple times by people close to him]. Ban bump stocks, that convert semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons. Ban weapons from getting the in the hands of domestic abusers.

The gun control conversation, at some point, needs to shift from just preventing mass shootings to solving the overall problem. 90 people a day are killed by gun violence. Preventing access may save lives – both suicides and homicides. Americans need to support the courageous Parkland students who are acting to “march for their lives”. I support them. Everyone should. The Parkland students are inspiring and courageous, but they cannot change the system alone. They need the support of the American people who can then influence the elected officials in state legislatures and in Washington.

People deserve to be safe in their schools…at concerts…in theatres…in nightclubs. 3% of Americans own almost half of the guns. More than 90% of Americans support background checks. There is popular support for the policies listed above, yet Republicans refused to act and filibustered measures during the Obama years, and are refusing to act now.

But I think this time will be different. The Parkland students are adding a fresh, angry voice to the gun debate that is not motivated by a hidden agenda. They are sharp and articulate, and they speak authentically about their goals and motivations. They are old enough to speak for themselves and their fallen classmates and teachers, yet young enough that they shouldn’t have to be involved in all this. I truly believe this is a watershed moment. Hopefully, we are watching a historic moment in the fight against gun violence and mass shootings.

After Parkland, Congress has remained shamefully inactive as children and people of all ages continue to be gunned down in schools, restaurants and places where they should be safe. The latest mass tragedy occurred in Santa Fe High School in Texas, where 10 people lost their lives. If lawmakers had acted earlier, perhaps this would not have happened. In this case, the shooter obtained the guns from his father’s cabinet. Again, a cultural shift is really important in how Americans buy, use and store guns.

Small progress continues to be made at the state level, thanks in part to grassroots organisations like Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action. The Parkland students have helped shine a greater light on this issue since February 14, with their “March for Our Lives” movement, which does not only encompass school shootings. For legislation to be passed on a national level, there needs to be a change of leadership in Congress, so that lawmakers are pressured to do the right thing.

The midterm elections of 2018 are very important for people who want change in this issue. They need to be mobilised to act. It is time for Americans to stand up and say ‘enough is enough’. Students should not be murdered in schools, concert goers should not be murdered in hotel parking lots and people should not be killed in restaurants. That should be the encompassing argument for gun control. The current gun laws are archaic and need to be changed. Lawmakers need to be reminded of the consequences of inaction. Americans have the opportunity for that in November.

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