In 24 hours, 31 people were killed in mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas.
Wherever you see yourself on the ideological spectrum, it does not matter. Whatever we are doing is not working.
Too many people have died in mass shootings in this country. All the retweets and “thoughts and prayers” will not stop the horror of this happening again, because it will happen again. We’ve tweeted, prayed, used all the hashtags and it happened. Again.
Let’s stop kidding ourselves that whatever we are currently doing is going to stop mass shootings from happening in the future. The Dayton shooter was neutralized by police in 30 seconds but still shot 14 people, so “the good guy with a gun” argument is not a solution. The shooter used a high-capacity rifle with a 100-round magazine.
For those who say laws won’t make a difference: Both the El Paso and Dayton shooters used legally purchased firearms, according to the Sacramento Bee. The hypothetical “they’ll just buy their guns illegally” argument could be true, but in these recent cases, the gunmen obeyed the law and still managed to kill. Without laws restricting guns, we are making it easier for them to carry out attacks. We should be putting up as many safeguards as possible as a society to keep high-intensity weapons out of the hands of killers. Background checks, red-flag laws and permit-to-purchase licensing laws are ideas our lawmakers need to start implementing. Some states have. But as seen in California, as long as restrictions do not span across state lines, a potential shooter can simply purchase a gun in a state with less restrictions.
In Florida, Ban Assault Weapons NOW collected more than 103,000 signatures for a proposed ban on assault weapons. Attorney General Ashley Moody asked the Supreme Court to block the initiative last week. Moody’s concern is with the wording of the proposed amendment. We hope to see the amendment on the 2020 ballot. Maybe then we can do something besides tweet and pray about it.
Gun violence needs to be addressed on the business and culture side as well. A New York Times interactive feature visualized how gunmakers adapt to laws attempting to put safety limitations on assault weapons. Gunmakers and owners modify guns in ways that keep illegal guns indistinguishable from legal weapons. Businesses need to stop selling modification kits and other parts that make illegal and legal guns indistinguishable.
Dick’s Sporting Goods stopped selling assault-style weapons after the Parkland shooting. L.L. Bean, Kroger and Walmart also raised the age restriction for buying guns and ammunition to 21 around the same time, according to CNN. Walmart also removed items from its website that look like assault-style rifles — even nonlethal airsoft guns.
Demand public officials make a change. If any sensible gun laws are going to pass, we have to call on our senators and local officials to act. If serious about this issue, officials should make laws to promote safety. If time and time again they do not try to make changes for us, the one who voted them into office, we should no longer vote for them. Why should we keep those in office who do not see mass shootings as a public safety issue as serious as any other illness outbreak or natural disaster? These occurrences should not be seen as random. This problem needs to be looked at like any other detrimental public safety issue.
The mass shooting epidemic in America has to be dealt with from all sides by all sides. Regardless if we can’t come together and agree on the cause, we must admit there is a problem.
If you believe mental illness is the cause of the problem, fight for better resources and programs so people can warn authorities before it happens. Ask representatives for legislation that implements better mental health resources throughout the country.
If you think access to guns is the root of the problem, fight for lawmakers to limit access to guns and start stricter background checks, permit-to-purchase licensing law and other legislation to make it harder for killers to get their hands on guns.
Whichever way you see it, do something. We don’t have to agree on how gun violence manifests. But we have to do something. Now.