Photo by EUGENE GARCIA/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock (9107485c). A makeshift memorial on the Las Vegas Strip for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting on Oct. 2, 2017. The shooting, which took 59 lives and injured 851 with the use of 24 guns, is the deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in the United States.
The Meadows School

Opinion: The Sad State of Shooting Affairs

All news about shootings is old news in the U.S.A. To many Americans, there is simply too much going on to keep count of the dead. For all our claims that we are a developed country, gun statistics seem to prove the opposite: the U.S. is a part of the six countries that make up 50 percent of worldwide gun deaths, clocking in at 14.8 percent.

We are joined by Guatemala, Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil — a crew that many anti-immigrant hardliners claim actually contribute to crime in our country (Vox). While our gun death rate is relatively low in that list, at 10.2 deaths per 100,000 people, we are a far cry from other countries considered to be on our economic level. For comparison, Canada averages 2.1 deaths per, while Great Britain averages 0.9 per. So we are not better off than our traditional Western allies.

But no, some people claim, gun control isn’t the solution. Then perhaps Americans are culturally predisposed to enjoy murder?

As a society, we are at the level where there’s a veritable formula for shootings in media. If it’s a white man, many will scream that he had a mental illness; they were a loner and a good kid in school without a cause for doing so; an exception. If it’s a person of color, the gunman must have been an illegal alien; a criminal; troubled and in a poor economic state; the norm. Not all people will scream this — it’s just a disappointing truth that some people scream very loud. But the problem is less so reactions to shootings but more so the fact that they have become so normalized.

Something tells me that it is not normal to be afraid for your life when you are alone in the street. Something tells me you should not be afraid that you will be shot to death at a music concert. Something tells me that you should not fear a policeman could pull us over, murder us in cold blood, and get off scot-free; or that seeing people with holsters in a common sight; or that you could lose your life because a man who bought a gun without the proper qualifications is angry one day; and the list continues on. This shouldn’t be normal.

There have been two workplace shootings in the last 48 hours: one in Maryland, and the other in Wisconsin. 263 days into the year, and we stand proudly at 262 shootings, according to Vox. One a day, almost. Maybe we need one more shooting to even out the number. When you are getting to this scale, another shooting shouldn’t matter, right?

But no, some people claim, gun control isn’t the solution.

There’s a prevailing belief that policy should change for the safety of the people. Their Constitutional general welfare, perhaps. But we’ve seen little happen outside of thoughts and prayers in the Trump administration.

Most advocates for gun control want something that seems completely reasonable in imitation of other developed countries, ranging anywhere from improved mental health checks, the inclusion of gun-related exams, and bans on certain types of especially lethal guns — not the elimination of guns completely. And this is for the safety of the community, not to support a political agenda or attack gun-carriers.

Many gun advocates make the good point that they require guns for safety, especially in rural counties—that it is their Second Amendment right to carry arms. But they forget that the Second Amendment was created during the time of muskets, and not assault rifles and pistols. They have the guns they need, but they feel attacked when activists proposed slightly tighter legislation be written. If they are doing nothing wrong and have more than they need, they should have little to be angry about. It should not be a hard question to decide between a bit of extra regulation or reducing the slaughter of innocents.

So many gun advocates fail to realize that people are genuinely afraid, and they are setting a frightening precedent of common violence. The government is unwilling to encroach upon these people’s rights. Despite grassroots action and calls for morality, politicians seem content with taking the money and preaching inapplicable ideology. Eight lawmakers have received at least $1 million from the NRA over the length of their careers. 24 Democrats have received NRA support, while only 6 Republicans have not. As of February 1st, guns rights movements have contributed $12,675,250 to Capitol Hill in comparison to the gun control movement’s paltry $570,123 (CNN). It wouldn’t be a stretch to say policy has favored the big bucks. Apparently, morality can be sold away.  

If largely-unrestricted gun ownership falls under a right, then perhaps life does not.