If you’re living in America, you’re more likely to be killed by means of a firearm than a motor vehicle according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This growing issue manifested itself in two mass shootings within a single weekend occurring both in El Paso, Texas as well as Dayton, Ohio, ending with 31 people dead and at least 57 people injured, CNN reported.
On Saturday Aug. 3, some people in a Walmart located in El Paso, Texas were simply back-to-school shopping when a shooting occurred killing 20 people and injuring 26 others, according to CNN. The shooter posted a racist “manifesto” online and, according to an affidavit, was targeting Mexicans specifically.
That night, when America went to bed trying to wrap their mind around the shoo
ting, another occurred, just hours after the first. In Dayton, Ohio, a shooter set on inflicting violence, resulted in the death of 9 people and injuring of 31 others, CNN said.
Some good will result from the mass shooting in Ohio: gun reform.
According to NPR, Mike DeWine, the republican governor of Ohio, has proposed a law similar to the “red flag law.” The red flag law, which seventeen states have adopted, allows people to ask a court to take away another’s guns temporarily if that person poses a threat or is concerning, according to Guns & America. This proposed law from Ohio’s governor will do just that as well as increase background checks, penalties for gun related crimes and access to mental health treatment. All of these proposals stand for a striking shift in Ohio’s gun policies.
Texas, on the other hand, is moving in the opposite direction, with plans to loosen gun restrictions through new firearm laws that will be put into place next month. This comes from a state that has had 4 of the 10 most deadly shootings in modern American times, according to NPR.
As a student and a person in general, I feel a sharp tug at my heart whenever I hear shooting occurred. I can’t help thinking: that could have been me, my family or someone I know.
“The right to go to Walmart, or to a food festival, or to synagogue, or to school, without fear of being shot, is eminently worth fighting for,” Michael Luo of the New Yorker said following the shootings.
These horrid instances shouldn’t be happening. In the first instances of mass shootings such as Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech, policies should have been enacted to prevent further catastrophes and lives lost. Yet, since this change is still nowhere to be seen today mass shootings have continued and will continue to occur until measures are taken.
The values and actions of our country, or lack thereof, I consider to be part of the reason shootings have continued and even increased. Despite many shootings occurring in the past, our government still continues to refrain from enacting reform of any kind. Sure they can give all the speeches they want about their condolences and empathy, but the real change stems from action. The absence of action is implying that the matter is of little importance and will fix itself. Which is far from the truth of the matter. After all what can be more important than life itself?
The atmosphere America has developed is one where partisan politics divide us and people resort to blaming others. Gun reform isn’t a partisan issue, it’s a matter of saving lives. Leave politics out of it. Gun reform offers the ability to save lives, so then, why wouldn’t we act on that ability?
Our president continues to point fingers at mental health as the source of the problem, when statistics have shown that mentally ill people are not responsible in nearly all cases, according to TIME. This uninformed, inaccurate blame adds fuel to the fire by not addressing the true cause.
“Routinely blaming mass shootings on mental illness is unfounded and stigmatizing,” APA said in a statement on Aug. 4, after the El Paso and Dayton shootings. “The rates of mental illness are roughly the same around the world, yet other countries are not experiencing these traumatic events as often as we face them. One critical factor is access to, and the lethality of the weapons that are being used in these crimes. Adding racism, intolerance and bigotry to the mix is a recipe for disaster.”
Just as the APA said, the prevalence of “racism, intolerance and bigotry” in the world does not mix well with easy access to guns. Without guns however, these forms of hatred have no way to be pursued, carried out and result in mass killings. Due to this, we should lift our placing of the blame from the people, and shift it to guns. Guns, specifically assault weapons, automatic and semi-automatic weapons need to be banned.
Many, including myself, believe this would be the most effective solution. And it may sound simple, but when one looks below the surface, this would be extremely hard to implement and enforce. Even if our government would be willing to enact this change, there’s always an avid gun supporters that would try to hold onto their guns. And what would we do as a result of that? Search houses?
In order to avoid searching houses and chaos, there needs to be an incentive to turn in guns to authorities. The incentive I can think of would be payment, and this payment would decrease as time passes. For instance, the reward for turning in your gun within a year of the law restricting them being put into place, would be double your gun’s worth. Whereas, if one waits, they only receive half of it’s worth. After 5 years of the law in place, those bearing guns would be subject to jail time.
New Zealand’s parliament, actually voted to enact a similar concept, calling it a “gun buyback program.” This program was kickstarted on July 13 after a shooting at a mosque which killed 51 people. By means of the program, gun owners are paid to turn in their weapons until Dec. 20, CNN reports. As of Aug. 11, 10,242 firearms had been turned into New Zealand police since the buyback program began.
Not only is this program, similar to the solution deduced, but it’s proven effective as well, collecting a large number of firearms. This shooting, the first mass shooting in New Zealand’s modern history, resulted in immediate action, something the US needs to learn from. The US has had dozens of shootings already in 2019, according to the Gun Violence Archive, yet we fail to enact any significant policies to address those.
According to NPR, several cities around the US have also utilized buyback programs temporarily in the past. In fact, within June and July, the Chicago Police Department held many local events to collect firearms.
When international jihadist terrorism groups were on the rise and 9/11 occurred, our country united to fight the impeding issue. President Bush even declared a “war on terrorism.” So why can’t they do the same with white supremacy?
White supremacy and jihadist groups are similar in that they both depond on the anger of neglected young men, that often lack bonds with people and society and are more sucesptible to immoral thinking.
In the majority of cases, white supremacy is considered domestic terrorism and often is seen in the form of shootings. In 2019, the amount of domestic terrorism arrests was roughly the same as those of international terrorism in the US according to the FBI director Christopher Wray. The bulk of these domestic terrorism issues derive from white supremacy dispositions. Our country should be fighting to put a stop to white supremacy and others forms of domestic terrorism as they did international terrorism. Not taking necessary action to address white supremacy implies race is a motivating factor in the decision to take action, which is extremely unjust and just wrong.
However disheartening the lack of gun violence is, we must continue to push for action and remain hopeful the injustices from shootings will not remain unpunished. This hope can be seen in plans to address gun reform. Whether these plans will translate into action through, is unknown. The conservative governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine, is planning on enacting gun reform. Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell, the extremely conservative Senate Majority Leader, has focused Senate Republican’s attention on taking action regarding gun violence, NPR reports. McConnell said this would take place in September and expects to cover background checks, “red flag” laws and assault weapons.
“What we can’t do is fail to pass something,” McConnell said to WHAS radio in Kentucky, adding, “the urgency of this is not lost on any of us.”
Due to their conservative political views, both DeWine’s and McConnell’s actions have been a break in stride from those historically. McConnell actions especially signify huge implications, as he has been the reason many gun reform acts have not even made it to the senate for debating, let alone voting. This step taken by McConnell, a gun supporter, may imply gun reform in the future to bring much needed justice to the lives lost due to guns.
This article is dedicated to all of the victims of gun violence in America. May you be the guiding lights that lead us towards the promise of a brighter, safer tomorrow.