I am sitting in my room, feet up on my desk. I am discussing the horrifying reality of school shootings with my cousin as she reads the novel Columbine by Dave Cullen. I log onto Twitter and see that there’s been a shooting in Munich. I am sickened, but I am not surprised. Mass shootings should not be a normal occurrence. And yet, according to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 200 mass shootings in America so far in 2016 (some organizations report even higher numbers).
At this point, most of us know that there’s a problem. We recoil when we see the headlines about death, and shake our heads when American politicians gloss over mass shootings with the words “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Because, as pressing as it is to uphold the American Constitution, people are dying. As much as this can be blamed on radicalism, hate and in some cases, mental health issues, it also can, and should, be blamed on guns.
The line that typically accompanies the aforementioned quote from the second amendment is this: “guns don’t kill people—people kill people.” The former part of this statement is true, theoretically: if a gun is sitting on a table, it’s not going to fire itself. Guns themselves don’t kill people. People who obtain guns because of the loose screening process kill other people. People who have easy access to guns kill other people. People who haven’t been properly educated about gun storage, usage, or safety kill other people. The bottom line is this: people with guns kill other people.
The American Constitution is important to me, even as a Canadian, because it contains the Bill of Rights. Human rights, justice, and freedom are all worthy causes which I believe should be fought for. But at what cost will lawmakers seek to uphold the Second Amendment? Right now, that cost is human lives; more of which are being lost every day. Public safety is also important to me. That’s why I believe there is a need for stronger gun control laws. People, especially those on the no-fly list or those who are mentally ill to the point where gun use might be dangerous, should not be able to purchase guns—and no one should be able to purchase military-quality automatic weapons.
François Hollande, the President of France, faced scrutiny last week after the terror attack in Nice. He offered a message of strength and resiliency, but also said that “The times have changed and France is going to have to live with terrorism.” The times certainly have changed. Terrorism has become a global threat, and guns have become a global weapon. But if we accept attacks, terror-based or not, we become desensitized to them. We see the attacks as normal, instead of being outraged at them. And then what happens? Will we, as members of society, stand idly by as people with hate in their hearts kill innocent people?
No. We, as members of society, can refuse to accept senseless acts of violence. We can shun the notion that mass shootings and terror attacks are normal, and we can take a stand to make a difference. Here is a website that outlines 30 actions individuals can take to make a difference with regards to gun control.
You can donate to gun reform groups such as the Brady Campaign, or check how your senator voted on gun control if you live in America. You can also educate yourself about the current laws surrounding guns, or write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper outlining your desire for change (you could also write a blog post… I hear they’re pretty cool). Finally, you can make a commitment to yourself that you will never accept mass shootings or terror attacks as “normal.” They’re not; and they never should be.