12 killed, 70 wounded in Aurora movie theater in July of 2012.
20 children, 6 adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December of 2012.
14 killed, 22 wounded in San Bernardino in December of 2015.
49 killed, 58 wounded at the Pulse night club in Orlando in June of 2016.
59 killed, 514 wounded in Las Vegas in October of 2017.
160 killed, 664 wounded in Mass shootings in the United States in the past 5 years.
I want you to read that and understand the magnitude of those numbers. All of them wounded or killed doing totally normal everyday stuff. Seeing a movie, going to elementary school, going to work, the club, a concert. All of them completely oblivious to the terror of what was going to happen to them. Some were able to escape, others were not. Gunned down mercilessly by another human being for no logical reason with firearms they have no reason to have.
Every time one of these horrific incidents happen, a cycle starts.
1. Everyone sends their "thoughts and prayers" and pretends to care, and then proceed to do absolutely nothing about preventing another massacre.
2. Person A brings up gun control in an effort to try and do anything to prevent the next massacre.
3. Person B blasts Person A for bringing up gun control in such a sensitive time and trying to "politicize" a tragedy.
4. Person B spews non-sense about mental health to make it seem like they care.
5. Person A can't get anything done. Person B get paycheck from NRA.
6. 6 months later another 50 people are killed and the cycle starts over again.
We're living in this cycle right now. The massacre in Las Vegas only just happened on October 1st and we're already in between steps 5 and 6. And for the cycle were living in now, the sides are pretty apparent. Person B represents the 2nd amendment gun lovers, the spineless politicians in the NRA's pocket (aka the entire GOP), and a hefty section of the conservative base. Person A represents just about everyone else who cares enough for the life of the human being next to them.
I really try to refrain from labeling entire political parties with a broad brush. I am a democrat if that wasn't obvious, and I know and am good friends with lots of conservative people. I'm not trying to start fights and call all of them terrible people. But this issue is so evidently stricken to party affiliation, and conservatives continue to vote for and support the people who are responsible for the gunning down of America. I cannot sway casually in the neutral zone on this, I have to take a hard stance. Conservative politicians are killing America. Here's my reasoning.
1. Your Right to a Weapon Does Not Outweigh My Right to Life
After I woke up and saw what had happened in Las Vegas, I found myself constantly asking one question. Why do we value the rights to own these powerful, military-grade weapons over human lives? Gun supporters cannot say they don't see it that way. If they did, they wouldn't keep crying about the government taking their assault rifles away. Their incessant need for the biggest, baddest, most deadly weapons is totally legal. But their want for these weapons has made their availability to the public possible, which in turn makes them available to people like Stephen Paddock, who was able to unload hundreds of rounds into a crowd of 22,000 people. If you really valued the life of your spouse, or your kids, or the people you walk by every day, you would take it upon yourself to understand that if no one can get these dangerous weapons, then hundreds of people won't be murdered by them. This is an instance where America's liberty is haunting us.
Gun supporters have taken the 2nd amendment to such an illogical degree that had the founding fathers understood what weapons are capable of today, they would've shut all of this down. This is just a part of an endemic issue with the Right in America. They are so incapable of historical context. They willingly ignore the fact that the constitution was written with muskets and single loading rifles in mind. But conservatives are so attached to the past, they are unwilling to accept changing the context of the current situation. This is true with guns, with gay and trans equality, with racial equality, gender equality, climate change, science in general, and everything in-between. Conservatives would fit in just fine in 1800's America.
Back to the topic at hand, why should I and everyone else sacrifice my safety, my peace of mind, my life, so you can have your stupid automatic gun that you tote around at the range. Why can't you sacrifice your AR-15 so I can go to the theater without fearing some pissed off guy is going to come in and blow us all away? By all means, I'm not saying we need to get rid of every single gun. You can have your handguns and hunting rifles, but please tell me one good reason why you need an automatic rifle with an extended magazine and a silencer? You don't. You just don't and I don't care what your rights are. Americans deserve the right to not live in fear before you get the right to start your own armory.
2. More Guns Are Not the Answer
A common argument I hear is "well if someone had a gun they could've stopped the shooter." So what you're saying is everyone, at all times, everywhere, should have a gun latched to their waste or stuck under their desk. Teachers should be expected to know how to kill a shooter when all they want to do is just teach students. All those people in Aurora should've brought their guns to a movie they just wanted to sit down and enjoy. The people at San Bernardino should have brought their glocks to work every day in their briefcases just in case someone came in angry with an AK-47. All those people enjoying a night out at the club or out at that concert should've been packed. It's all just wrong. For one, you're blaming the victims, as if it's their fault some guy came and shot all of them. Gun supporters are so quick to defend the guns a shooter used instead of thinking about the 50 people he just killed. It's actually incredibly disgusting and makes no sense.
None of these shootings would have been prevented if someone had a gun. A normal person's reaction to a mass shooting is to run as far away as possible, not engage. Unless you get professional training, no one is prepared to shoot at someone who is firing at them and also has no disregard for their own life. Also in the instance of the crowded club, more gunfire is just going to get more people killed. Or in the instance of Las Vegas, where no one knew where the shots were coming from, there's no way anyone could have fired back at that guy without completely missing and hitting someone else's hotel room.
Also, in case you forgot, we have thousands of men and women in this country whose sole job is to protect us from these kinds of things, aka the Police. It is specifically their job to protect us in times of danger and use their training and weapons to take out any shooters. When you watch all the videos people take in these horrific tragedies, the police officers are telling everyone to get out and run away, not to pick up a gun and fire back. The importance should not be on me to carry a rifle to defend myself every day. Expecting every day innocent people to defend themselves against a mass shooting is just so ignorant and wrong.
3. Now is the Time to Talk About This
What infuriates me more than anything is when politicians say now is not the time to talk about gun control after a mass shooting. When is? In 6 months when everyone's forgotten? In a year when another 70 people get massacred? I've got an answer for you. For conservatives, the time to talk about gun control is never. They claim to not want to talk about it in respect for the victims and their families. But those same people have no problem signing a bill that allows mentally ill people to buy a gun. I guess they don't care about the respect for the victims and their families then, they just care about their voters and their pockets getting fatter. They just want to constantly delay the conversation until something else happens and it's forgotten.
I want you to really understand this. The White House, Trump, Paul Ryan, the Republican Party, they do not care about you.
They only care about your vote and their money. They have no compassion for those victims, they never have and they never will. If they truly did, they would have something to say about gun control. They would actually do something for once instead of being the spineless ignorant weak men that they are. They would stop buying excuses for shooters by passing them off as someone with "mental health issues." Stephen Paddock was a perfectly healthy man who wanted to kill a lot of people. Is there something inherently wrong with someone who wants to do that? Yes. But why not focus on the thing they used to kill tons of people? Why do they hide behind this useless "mental health" argument that never leads to anything? Every time these shootings happen everyone is caught off guard. Until we can pull a Minority Report and see the future before a crime happens, these people are going to kill people no matter what. You can't help a mentally ill person unless they go to someone. Whether they are crazy or not, you can control what they use when they get angry and walk into an elementary school full of innocent kids. And if they're so gung-ho on mental health, why are they trying so hard to get rid of health care for millions of Americans? They literally are not benefitting America in any way.
Saying now is not the time to talk about gun control is like saying now is not the time to talk about hurricane preparation after Puerto Rico and the Caribbean has been leveled. Or your house burns down but it's not time to talk about fire alarms. Why would we not talk about trying to prevent something after it happens? Especially when it keeps happening and keeps getting worse and worse?
4. How Many People Have to Die?
So that brings me to my ultimate question. How many people have to die? Every shooting becomes the worst mass shooting in American history. The weaponry gets worse, and more people die every time. 20 kids at Sandy Hook wasn't enough, 49 people in Orlando weren't enough, and 59 people in Las Vegas aren't enough. What will it take for conservatives to finally understand this is a problem? When will the sheer amount of human loss be so obvious that their cold dead hearts will beat enough for them to summon an ounce of human compassion and put together some type of legislation or plan to prevent these kinds of tragedies? The only reason these lifeless Republicans won't do anything is because of their own personal gain. They don't really care about serving America, because if they did they would do something. They just want to hold office and get money. That's all they care about. They want that A+ rating from the NRA and they want their mindless supporters to vote for them and keep them in office so they can continue to sit on their ass and watch innocent Americans get gunned down by other Americans on American soil.
I don't know if these men and women can be fixed. I don't know how to tell someone to have empathy and compassion for another human being other than themselves. In reality, until there is a personal gain for them to want to save lives and stop mass shootings, they won't move one inch. And I want to try and get across that I am not asking for nationwide removal of all guns. No one wants that. No one ever said that. I just want us to rein it in. I want to get rid of the guns that we don't need. We don't need assault rifles, we don't need the capability to kill hundreds of people in mere seconds. No one needs that. I don't know how I, or anyone else, can convince a gun lover to have compassion for the people around them. If you want to be a real hero, a real patriot, give up your gun. Give them up so we can make a change, so we can get rid of the most dangerous weapons and not worry about getting gunned down whenever we're at a large, crowded public event. Please just for one moment consider if your weapon is really worth it. If getting rid of your gun meant that just one life was saved. Would you do it?
Unfortunately, these is no way to not end this on a bleak depressing note. Right now there is one party who insists on letting Americans get massacred because they refuse to do anything about it. They're going to let the bodies pile up and pretend like there's nothing to be done about it. All I can say is remember this when voting comes around. Remember this when another shooting happens and one party says "now is not the time" but politely offers their bullshit thoughts and prayers. Remember the cycle, and how it'll repeat over and over and over. Remember all of this, just hope that your not being mourned at the next vigil.