Keep America Alive

Keep America Alive

How many mass shootings do we need to have before some gun control measures get instituted?
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On October 1st, 2017, the deadliest mass shooting in American history took place in Las Vegas, Nevada.

With extreme certainty, I am writing that we will see this headline at least twice more in the next decade, given that, before this week, the deadliest mass shooting in American history was last year (Orlando). And, before that, was in 2007 (Virginia Tech).

Based on a definition of "mass shootings" that includes an incident in which 4+ people were shot - regardless of the number of deaths - data show that as of today, October 4th, 2017, there have been 340 mass shootings this year in America alone. In October alone - FOUR DAYS INTO THIS MONTH - there have been 538 people injured and 65 killed by gun violence.

It is worth noting that definitions of "mass shootings" can vary and give us different numbers. For example, by not counting the shooter's death as one of the incident's deaths, we can cite that 273 mass murders have occurred in America in 2017, a number that is still concerning given that today is the 275th day of the year. By narrowing the definition to needing an "indiscriminate rampage", one can even rationalize it down to 7 mass murders this year. And about half of the shootings yearly with 4+ victims are family incidents.

There have been 46,958 gun-related incidents this year with 11,747 deaths and 23,839 injuries. 2,451 of these deaths were teenagers, and 551 of them were children under the age of 11. And the roughly 22,000 yearly suicides by gun are not included anywhere in these statistics because they are not "mass shootings" by any rate.

But either way, using any definition, it is clear - America has a problem with gun violence.

Can someone please explain why we cannot have stricter gun control, allowing for the second amendment freedoms but also keeping our population alive? Why there are stores in rural areas that sell military-grade, class 4 weaponry to the general public? And I understand there's some paperwork you need to fill out and a few hoops to jump through that really only give pause to the harmless people. But, if that is such a deterrent, can somebody please explain why it is the fourth day of the month and 538 people are already in the hospital with gunshot wounds?

And it's nice of you to want everyone to have a gun to protect their families. It's noble. Very sacrificial. But it is not a solution to any problem - it is a way of ending the problem more quickly. Why would you not prefer to avoid the solution altogether, limiting people's access to dangerous weaponry and reducing the number of incidents (and, by association, the numbers of injuries and deaths) instead of constantly being prepared to deal with the situation and reduce only the number of deaths? Shouldn't we plug the leaking spout instead of placing a bucket underneath to collect the water?

How many Las Vegas-type shootings do we need to have? How many concerts, shopping malls and leisure parks need to be shot up? How many Sandy Hooks, Columbines and San Bernardinos have to occur? How many nationwide moments of silence, how many lowered flags for kids, citizens and ordinary people who were enjoying music and having fun only to be killed by somebody who found it only too easy to get their hands on something that would allow them to catharsize their internal angst on the world?

I've heard plenty of people citing terror attacks that have used cars to ram into crowds, homemade explosives and plane hijackings, saying that people will find weapons no matter what, and that is true. But why are we making this easy on them? Why do we have huge billboards on the sides of the road advertising that these killing machines are not only buyable but are on CLEARANCE, just a few exits up the road?

And the fact is that, yes, there will always be isolated incidents; events like Las Vegas, tragic and heartbreaking though they are, are not entirely avoidable. Yet we need to limit both the availability of weaponry and who has access to it. Automatic and semi-automatic guns aren't necessary in our daily lives; a handgun will suffice for personal protection and a rifle is all that is really needed to hunt. Anyone with a violent criminal history such as sex offenses, domestic abuse and/or any forms of assault should be kept from purchasing weapons for obvious reasons, and people need to go through a mental health screening ahead of any purchases. An overwhelming number of mass murders (as defined by the "indiscriminate rampage" definition explained above) were committed by people who both 1. purchased their guns legally and 2. had significant previous mental health problems OR a violent criminal history.

Please contact your Congressmen. Ask them to require mental health screenings for people prior to any purchase of a deadly weapon, both for their own protection and for everyone else's. Ask them to ban sales of automatic and semi-automatic weaponry to the general public and to better install security measures to background check potential buyers.

Because, while moments of silence and social media hashtags are important and respectful, it is much, much better to take a stance and make an action to seal the flooding hole instead of just collecting all of the drops - tears - after they've already been wasted.

Cover Image Credit: Wallpaper Mania

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As A Victim Of Sexual Abuse, Painting '#MeToo' On A WWII Statue Is Taking The Movement TOO Far

There is a line you should never cross and that is it.

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The famous picture of the sailor kissing a woman was taken right on V-J Day, when Japan surrendered to the U.S. in World War II. For decades it was seen as a representation of how excited and relieved everyone was at the end of the war.

The picture touched the hearts of thousands as you could feel the overwhelming amounts of joy that came from the snap of the camera. While the woman in the picture died back in 2016 due to a struggle with pneumonia, the sailor just recently died on Feb. 17, 2019 at the age of 95.

Most people saw it as both a heartbreak and heartwarming that the couple that was once photographed were now together.

Other people saw differently.

There is a statue made of the picture that resides in Sarasota, Florida. Police found early Tuesday morning of Feb. 19, two days after the sailor's death, that someone had spray-painted #MeToo on the statue's leg in bright red.

As a woman, I strongly encourage those who have been sexually assaulted/abused in any way shape or form, to voice themselves in the best way they can. To have the opportunity to voice what they went through without being afraid. As a woman who has also been a victim of sexual assault and has been quiet for many years...

This act of vandalism makes me sick.

While the woman that was kissed by the sailor was purely kissed on impulse, she had stated in an interview with 'The New York Times' that, "It wasn't a romantic event. It was just an event of 'thank God the war is over.'"

People were celebrating and, as a sailor, that man was so over the moon about the war being over that he found the nearest woman to celebrate with.

While I don't condone that situation, I understand both the reason behind it as well as the meaning behind the photo. I understand that, while it wasn't an intended kiss, it was a way of showcasing relief. To stick #MeToo on a statue of a representation of freedom is not the right way to bring awareness of sexual abuse.

It gives those the wrong idea of why the #MeToo movement was started. It started as a way for victims of sexual abuse to share their stories. To share with the world that they are not alone.

It helped me realize I wasn't alone.

But the movement, soon after it started, became a fad that turned wrong. People were using it in the wrong context and started using it negatively instead of as an outlet for women and men to share their horrific experiences of sexual assault.

That statue has been up for years. To wait until the sailor passed away was not only rude but entirely disrespectful. The family of that sailor is currently in mourning. On top of it, it's taking away from the meaning behind the photo/statue. World War II was one of the darkest, scariest events in — not just our American history — but the world's as well.

Sexual abuse is a touchy matter, I encourage everyone to stand up for what's right. But to vandalize a statue of one of the most relieving days in America's history is an act that was unnecessary and doesn't get the point of #MeToo across in the way it should. If anything, it's giving people a reason not to listen. To protest and bring attention to something, you want to gather the right attention.

This was not gathering the right attention.

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The Polar Bears Invaded, What Do We Care?

After all this is on the other side of the world, it can't possibly impact us.

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On February 10th, news started circulating about something pretty unheard of; some near 50 polar bears have made their way into the small Russian town of Novaya Zemlya. These bears have been reported roaming around the streets, and to people like us, this seems rather bizarre, and to some degrees fascinating. Florida is the polar opposite of the type of climate these animals live in, and so the majority of us have never seen a polar bear anywhere except maybe in a zoo. Taking this into consideration, it makes sense why we'd see the whole situation this way. After all, how cool would it be to be able to look out your window and see these guys walking around? How many people could say that they've experienced that? Probably not too many!

When you look into the details of this situation though, it becomes evident that this is actually a major nuisance and concern for the people affected. People have reported being scared to leave their homes, or send their kids to school because of the looming threats of these bears and their aggression, and there have been issues reported with the polar bears wandering into human residences. A state of emergency had to be called because of the safety hazard that they pose, and also because there is no known way to get rid of them. They've lost their fear of humans, and consequently, they no longer responded to things like guns being fired off, or alarms sounding.

This situation is a major issue, and as a conservation enthusiast, I believe it is one that everyone should be concerned with. Yes, even those of us who live over 6,000 miles away from Russia, and have no possible way of being impacted by the event itself.

When these polar bears wandered into this town, they began scavenging for food. If it were only one or two bears it could be said that maybe they just weren't fit enough to adequately hunt, but when these animals are arriving in the masses it's a major testament to the condition of the environment. The habitat that these bears live in is no longer able to sustain them, and considering the species is already endangered, that means that their habitat is in a terrible state. Some will argue that their habitat decline is due to climate change, and those who don't believe in climate change will protest against that.

I say forget whether or not you believe climate change is real or not; the fact that the environment can no longer sustain a shrinking population is problematic enough, without pointing fingers at a cause. The state of the world is changing, and it's not going to stop with impacting just the polar bears.

People tend to underestimate the importance of environmental issues. We don't really care about things until they're knocking at our front door and interfering with how we go about life. People ignored the fact that the ice stretches polar bears need to hunt have been shrinking, and now an entire town is having their livelihood completely disrupted because of it, for some continuous unknown amount of time. I say that people need to care about this because this could've been any community that is near a rural area. This could've happened much closer to home, with any species of animal that is facing environmental pressures. People need to take this event and learn from it. We need to stop turning cheek to environmental issues until they're hurting us. We need to start taking care of problems as they're presented and stop making taking care of the world we live on such a debate. It was polar bears this time, and unless we act it's only a matter of time before it's something else, and maybe it's us and our neighbors staying inside, too scared to go out.

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