Shot Down

“Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine, my response, here, at this podium, ends up being routine, the conversation and the aftermath of it. We’ve become numb to this.” President Obama – October 1, 2015. 

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Property of The New York Times.

I am upset and angry that I see a headline such as this one as often as I do. I am upset and angry that, as an eighteen year old, I have to worry about when this will happen again and the potential, but not far-fetched, idea that it could happen to anyone I know. I am upset and angry that nothing has been done to fix this, and any attempt or effort proposed has been rejected.

Gun violence in this country needs to be addressed.

Here are the facts.

On December 2nd of this year, there was another mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, that resulted in the loss of 14 lives and an additional 21 wounded. The guns used in the shooting were legally purchased. On October 1st, nine people were killed and nine were injured in the Umpqua Community College Shooting in Oregon. The guns fired were legally purchased, and the shooter had another fourteen more legally purchased weapons in his apartment. On July 16th, five Marines were murdered in the Chattanooga, Tennessee shootings. Ammunition was purchased only five days before the shooting, at a Walmart, and the high-powered weapons used were bought legally, here. On June 17th, nine human beings were slaughtered during a Bible study, and one was injured during the shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Charleston, South Carolina. The handgun used was legally purchased.

These four cases are known as mass shootings as defined by Mother Jones (and other media outlets), meaning a single incident in a public place (excluding gang activity, armed robbery, or domestic violence) in which four or more people are killed. These are only four out of the 355 recorded instances of such gun violence in the US for the 2015 year alone.

Here is what has been proposed, yet ultimately abandoned.

A bill that would establish a required and thorough background check before being able to purchase a firearm was voted down by the Senate on December 3rd, one day after the San Bernardino shooting. This background check includes the blocking of suspected terrorists, felons, and the mentally ill from being able to buy a gun.

On April 17th of 2013, a bill, very similar to the bill proposed after San Bernardino, was shot down by the Senate 54-46. The bill was voted on shortly after the Newtown, Connecticut shooting, in which 20 children and six adults were killed. It would have expanded background checks.

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The bill was heavily pushed by President Obama, and after it was opposed he stated this in a conference, “All in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington.

Here is what I think.

It’s not as complex as we think. The facts are being blatantly thrown at our face at what now seems like every other month. We need to, at the very least, regulate gun sales. Right now, in the US, virtually anyone can get a gun. There are, to some extent, background checks, but these are ineffectual. Denials for gun purchases occur less than 1% of the time. The proposed bills should absolutely be passed, and the fact that these two bills were voted on directly after these tragedies, and both shot down, is sickening. It baffles me that while families and friends are losing loved ones over nothing, over absolutely nothing, members of the Senate refuse to pass a bill because they are backed and funded by the NRA. These bills need to be passed, something that could bring about real change. With more detailed background checks, we could limit the amount of danger by opting out to sell a weapon to those who are either going to use them to intentionally harm and even kill others.

Obviously, this isn’t going to end gun violence and stop mass shootings immediately, but it’s at least a start. And we, as a nation, need a start. And as much as I want to, we can’t just take away or ban guns, and we can’t stop selling them. I understand and recognize the necessity and desire to own a gun. However, I would love to know why I, an eighteen year old, can legally purchase an assault weapon, “Designed and configured for rapid fire and combat use.” What is the need of buying a weapon specifically designed to kill humans? Why and how is that legal? The fact is that any gun could defend you in the face of danger, so why are we allowed to purchase a weapon created for war? By selling these kinds of guns, we are just making it easier for those who will use them for evil. And I use the word evil because that’s what it is. It’s plain and simple evil.

These shooters thrive off one another. They are inspired by one another and influence each other in the worst ways possible. When these incidents occur, and no real change is created afterwards, that only acts as an encouragement. This is real evil, and it’s not just going to go away. Fix this problem.

“Our thoughts and prayers are not enough.” -The President.

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Cover image: A makeshift memorial in Newtown, Connecticut. Photo via Wikimedia Commons user FutureTrillionaire.

About the author

Matthew Colletti's personal hero is George Washington Carver.