Photo courtesy of Senior Airman Kevin Tanenbaum, 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Beverly Hills High School

Column: Wake up, America

Las Vegas, Nev.

Sound familiar? It should.

Another day has been infamously bookmarked in American history. The month of October began with what is now considered the deadliest mass shooting in the United States. On Oct. 1, 64-year-old retired accountant Stephen Paddock allegedly smuggled over 10 rifles into his room on the 32nd floor of a luxury suite in the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Paddock used a “bump stock,” a device that would enable him to fire hundreds of rounds per minute, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said at a news conference late Tuesday. He fired into a crowd of 22,000 fans at an outdoor concert for a duration of 11 minutes.

Fifty-nine people were pronounced dead and approximately 500 people were injured.

It saddens me to say that we have a prominent gun control issue in America that still, throughout our bloodied history, is overlooked, out seen, and shunned to silence.

South Orange, Orlando; Burlington, Washington; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Aurora, Colo. are just the prevalent names that surface on Google when you search “mass shootings.” However, what you don’t see are the “mass shootings” that occur every day in our nation.

They become numbers. They have become numbers. We wake up to news of 20 counted dead, 200 injured. An hour later, 30 dead, 300 injured and we end our day with a total count of 59 dead and more than 500 injured. The numbers become intangible statistics. But we must remember that behind one death, there are five family members, 10 friends, and 20 neighbors who are all affected. The death toll doesn’t even begin to describe the mass impact these shootings have.

The fact of the matter is that mass shootings kill hundreds of people a year, any of whom could have been the next Albert Einstein or Bill Gates or Martin Luther King. But, the world and our society will never know because we allow people to exert the free exercise of the Second Amendment in an uncontrolled and in an unregulated fashion.

The time has come for the modern American society to understand that guns kill people. There is no silver lining. Owning guns, storing guns, and firing guns all have a common denominator: they are the fundamental reason for all of the mass shootings in our country.

It has become an issue because we have begun to misinterpret the constitutional principles. There is no fine line in interpreting the Second Amendment. When our founding fathers wrote in 1787 that we have the right to bare arms, they were in a time when the arms were merely muskets, flintlock pistols and rifles. Arms that were designed to shoot one lead ball bullet at a time. The constitution is, however, an evolving manuscript that is supposed to be interpreted in a way to fit the time. It is not meant to be a static document. Our founders never envisioned an MK-47. Our founders never envisioned a man firing a military grade, automatic weapon that had only one sole purpose: to kill the maximum number of people in the shortest amount of time.

Paddock only needed 11 minutes to kill and shoot more than 500 people. Could this be accomplished with a Colt revolver? No, only by a hyper modified, military weapon in the hands of normal, and some abnormal, individuals who flaunt the Second Amendment at the gravesite of thousands of people in our country. There was no proclamation to a terrorist group or a cult-driven ideology. Just a man who had 11 minutes.

We have, in a way, dehumanized these acts of terrorism notoriously known as mass shootings. They have become prevalent social norms which we simple see, and sigh. We send our love and our prayers, our thoughts and our condolences to the victims. But then, we continue with our days until it inevitably happens again. And again.

Wake up, America.

The NRA wants to pass legislation to loosen the restriction to buy gun silencers. This is the epitome of the unspoken flaw that thrives in our nation. We must continue our days in progression by inflicting mass restriction on gun control, not pass a bill to normalize killings more than they already are.

Paddock did not have criminal records. He did not kill for a revolutionary movement or a religious ideology, but merely for the pleasure of inflicting pain on others. This is a legitimate act of terrorism imposed from one American on America. How’s that for some ironic patriotism.

Although we cannot pinpoint specific, predetermined means and similarities that run through the minds of these killers, there is and will always be one common denominator: gun control.

The day that we begin to correctly regulate this common denominator is the day that we can finally live in equanimity.

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