BLOG: Please Politicize Gun Violence, Please

KATIE PICKRELL

The shooting in Oregon last week was nothing out of the ordinary– and as disgusting as it is to say that, it’s true.

President Obama began his address to the nation on gun violence following the detriment of Oregon’s mass shooting by stating, “Our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel. It does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted somewhere else in America next week or a couple of months from now.”

After the statement that many claimed to be spoken in anguish and anger, given this was Obama’s fifteenth time addressing the nation of an issue that doesn’t allow a week to pass without claiming more lives, the POTUS ended with a call to action– one he vowed to bring up every time he’s forced to speak on such an event.

“We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction,” Obama said.“I’d ask the American people to think about how they can get our government to change these laws and save lives and to let young people grow up.”

After thinking about it for a while, it is apparent that Obama is right. Our condolences to those who we have lost and the friends and families they’ve left behind are not going to help anything. The only thing that could have the ability to help, despite how impossible many claim this to be, is passing legislation to promote smarter gun control.

When people repeatedly die from a cause, initiative is taken to ensure for public health and safety. If a bridge is broken, it’s repaired– people don’t go about and drive into their death. When cars had no safety regulations, seatbelts and airbags were introduced– we didn’t mope about saying “well, stuff happens.” When terrorists attacked in 2001, it took less than 30 days to implement stricter regulations under a new Transportation Security Administration (TSA)– we didn’t think about the causes we couldn’t prevent, we thought about the steps we could take to prevent a similar attack in the future.

If we continue to treat the issue of gun violence as something that is incurable, we will refuse to make any progress. Arguing that mass shootings are only caused by individuals who are intellectually ill is, for example, no longer going to be enough to hold up.

The issue of mental health only comes about in waves after a prominent shooting. After the direct aftermath, the focus shifts away and the pro-gun advocates that claim mental health is at fault for the tragedies soon forget the issue of expanding health care accessibility on other grounds.

If we aren’t going to expand rights to health care, then where does the mental health argument follow through? Is it plausible to create a master list of every American with mental illness (nearly one in five) and lock them away to make sure that they don’t hurt anyone, even though most of them lack any violent tendencies?

That isn’t the end-all, be-all cure for disrupting the pattern of unending gun massacres in the United States. The problem is much more complex than that. Introducing expanded background checks for those who wish to purchase a gun is a good start. Sorry, but for the protection of themselves and others, individuals with any type of debilitating intellectual disorder should not be allowed a gun.

That aside, more than one step needs to be taken. Any individual, mentally well or not, that has a history of domestic abuse charges should not be granted permission to purchase a weapon, especially not one as lethal as a gun.

After passing the extensive background checks, anyone wishing to buy a gun should be required to wait for approval. This isn’t just to ensure that everything follows through properly and to check that each person being granted a lethal weapon is truly worthy of possessing one, but a wait period would also disrupt any violent backing behind an urge to buy a gun. If someone is impulsively buying a gun, odds are the outcome isn’t going to be a happy ending.

Individuals in possession of a gun should also be required register their weapon and go through proper training that comes along with the possession of such a weapon. The old saying “with freedom comes responsibility” could not be more true in any circumstance but this one.

As for weapon bans, why would anyone be compelled to own an assault rifle? Self defense? More likely, these weapons are going to end up in the wrong hands. In the shooting of elementary level children in Newtown, Conn., Adam Lanza used an AR-15 to shoot and kill a total of 28 people.

Weapons such as the one Lanza used were outlawed in 1994 under the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, but were relegalized in 2004 with the expiration of the law. Now, the most common argument for owning ARs and AKs is for sport, fascination and protection.

Without any sense of an apology I’d like to point out personally that your fascination with a weapon is mildly disturbing, and insinuating that your right to owning a dangerous weapon on the grounds of fascination with your freedoms is not a liable excuse to witness the deaths of students around our nation.

As for your protection, when is an AR going to save you? If someone breaks into your house, do you sleep with it next to your nightstand, or do you just lay it next to you under the covers? Or, are you just completely out of luck because you don’t have a massive assault weapon within your reach at all times?

If the government comes knocking on your door demanding your weapon, your AR is not going to be a suitable match for their tank when things get that dictatorial.

Aside from outlandish weapons, large packing magazines are also unnecessary for most people not about to go on a shooting rampage. Many guns that utilize high ammunition capacity are considered assault weapons in the United States, but because the sale and possession of assault rifles has been legal since 2004, it doesn’t really matter.

After the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Obama proposed legislation that almost made its way through to prevent many of these things. His plan asked Congress to close background check loopholes, banning assault weapons and large capacity magazines– making schools safer– and increasing access to mental health services. None of this went through because of the executive orders that the plan involved, ones which would’ve banned high capacity magazines and limited ammunition while also instituting a plan for more resource officers inside of schools.

“I hope and pray I don’t have to come out again during my tenure as president to offer my condolences,” Obama said. “But based on my experiences as president, I can’t guarantee that, and that is terrible thing to say.”

Something does need to be done. Too many innocent people have died to let the issue pass on as something we cannot help.

Please stop purporting that nothing can be done to prevent the mass amount of mass shootings in our country. Please stop claiming that things just happen and that there’s nothing we can do about them. Please stop complaining that many are trying to politicize an issue that is rooted in the failure of our political system. Please abandon the thought that the second amendment was put into place by men who could’ve foreseen the United States face gun violence at rates 4 times higher than that of other developed countries.
Please think about the issue, fear it, politicize it, make it important– because it is.

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