It Shouldn't Take a Mass Shooting To Rethink Gun Policy

It Shouldn't Take a Mass Shooting To Rethink Gun Policy

"The true American issue is not the shootings, but how the country responds."
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Mass shootings have been occurring in the United States for over a century. Whether it was at a concert in Winfield, Kansas in 1903, or a festival in Las Vegas in 2017, the message stays the same and the outcome certainly never changes.

While mass shootings are a worldwide issue, they are far more frequent in the United States. However, the true American issue is not the shootings, but how the country responds. How can an entire nation come to one consensus over a topic so broad and so volatile? How can one "united nation in mourning" be so divided in such dangerous times?

In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in American history, it's important to realize that mass shootings are a terribly distorted way to spark the gun control debate. Our naturally sensationalist media tends to focus entirely on terrorism, police violence, and of course, mass shootings. While these three sources tend to dominate over 90% of the news, they only make up less than 3% of gun-related deaths in the United States each year. We tend to ignore a strong majority of the ~33,000 gun-related deaths in the United States simply because they don't make the news. Two-thirds of annual gun-related deaths in the United States are suicides, mainly by men aged 45 and older. Approximately another one third, or 12,000 deaths are caused by homicides. More than half of these homicide victims are young men, two thirds of whom are black. Another ~1,700 women are killed each year due to gun violence, mainly at the hands of domestic disputes. Approximately 400 Americans die annually to mass shootings, and while these shootings have been on the rise, homicides are on the way down. Annual suicides, however, are up tremendously.

Throughout these ~33,000 gun-related deaths each year, one common factor persists -- the gun. However, the roots of each problem are incredibly different, meaning the solutions must be as well.

When Americans are surveyed and polled, ~76% of Republicans and 85% of Democrats are in favor of stricter gun laws. Over 8 in every 10 Americans are in favor of a stricter national firearm code. And while implementing a blanket policy in order to satisfy the masses seems solid in theory, vocal gun owners would dominate the conversation, leading to even more contradictions throughout America's gun policy, and even more volatility between the left and the right when it comes to guns. We must realize that if new policies restricting gun access are implemented in one fell swoop, these policies will most likely miss their targeted objective. A gun law that aims to protect against the mentally ill might backfire and actually hinder the firearm purchasing process for an average, everyday American seeking to purchase a gun in pursuit of a hobby or self-defense.

America has a long history of toxic "quick-fix" policies, especially on the gun violence frontier. However, if the federal government implements another lazy stopgap policy regarding the current state of affairs, the goals and objectives of these policies will not be fulfilled. With all due respect to those involved, 59 deaths on the Las Vegas Strip are but a drop of water in the massive ocean of the "Great American Gun Problem".

If President Trump truly wants to be remembered as a "transformative President", then he must take this administration by the horns and do what his predecessor could not: create lasting and legal policy that ultimately reduces deaths caused by gun violence.

However, President Trump has to cover all the bases. A blanket policy will likely face constitutional issues and only create more political toxicity, while single-issue focused policies will leave too many open holes and unanswered questions. Policies that protect against mass shootings won't be able to stop police brutality and policies that deal with black on black gang violence won't have much of an effect on suicidal white males.

If America really wants to solve the gun violence issue, we must first realize that there are many gun issues. Gun violence is a collection of problems that need to be solved on a case to case basis. It will be utterly impossible for anyone to solve America's gun violence problems with one swift motion. However, the stage is finally set; and the wheel is finally in motion. All it took was 59 more dead Americans. Hopefully our country never has to learn this lesson again.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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5 Perks Of Having A Long-Distance Best Friend

The best kind of long-distance relationship.
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Sometimes, people get annoyed when girls refer to multiple people as their "best friend," but they don't understand. We have different types of best friends. There's the going out together best friend, the see each other everyday best friend and the constant, low maintenance best friend.

While I'm lucky enough to have two out of the three at the same school as me, my "low maintenance" best friend goes to college six hours from Baton Rouge.

This type of friend is special because no matter how long you go without talking or seeing each other, you're always insanely close. Even though I miss her daily, having a long-distance best friend has its perks. Here are just a few of them...

1. Getting to see each other is a special event.

Sometimes when you see someone all the time, you take that person and their friendship for granted. When you don't get to see one of your favorite people very often, the times when you're together are truly appreciated.

2. You always have someone to give unbiased advice.

This person knows you best, but they probably don't know the people you're telling them about, so they can give you better advice than anyone else.

3. You always have someone to text and FaceTime.

While there may be hundreds of miles between you, they're also just a phone call away. You know they'll always be there for you even when they can't physically be there.

4. You can plan fun trips to visit each other.

When you can visit each other, you get to meet the people you've heard so much about and experience all the places they love. You get to have your own college experience and, sometimes, theirs, too.

5. You know they will always be a part of your life.

If you can survive going to school in different states, you've both proven that your friendship will last forever. You both care enough to make time for the other in the midst of exams, social events, and homework.

The long-distance best friend is a forever friend. While I wish I could see mine more, I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Cover Image Credit: Just For Laughs-Chicago

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Ilhan Omar Is at Best Foolhardy and at Worst, Yes, Anti-Semitic

Her latest statements seem to lack substance, motivation, or direction.

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I find the case of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) to be a curious one.

Specifically, I am referring to the recent controversy over select comments of hers that have generated accusations of anti-Semitism. In all honesty, prior to doing research for this article, I was prepared to come to her defense.

When her comments consisted primarily of "Israeli hypnosis" and monied interest, I thought her wording poor, though not too egregiously deviated from that of most politicians in the current climate of bad behavior. After all, Israeli PACs surely do have a monied interest in the orientation of United States policy in the Middle East. Besides, if President Trump can hypothesize about killing someone in broad daylight and receive no official sanction, I don't see the need for the House of Representatives to hand down reprimand to Rep. Omar for simply saying that Israel may have dealt wrongly, regardless of the veracity of that position.

And yet, seemingly discontent that she had not drawn enough ire, Omar continued firing. She questioned the purported dual loyalty of those Americans who support the state of Israel, while also making claim that the beloved former President Obama is actually not all that different from the reviled current President Trump.

In short, the initial (mostly) innocuous statements about the United States' relation with Israel have been supplanted by increasingly bizarre (and unnecessary) postulations.

Those latest two controversies I find most egregious. Questioning the loyalty of an American citizen for espousing support for a heavily persecuted world religion and in defense of a refuge for practitioners of that self-same religion that has existed as an independent state since 1948, seems, in really no uncertain terms, anti-Semitic.

After all, is it not her own party that so adamantly supports persecuted Palestinians in the very same region? Is it not she and fellow Muslim Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) (who is not without her own streak of anti-Semitic controversy) that have rejected challenges to their own loyalty in being ethnically Somali and Palestinian respectively? Is her claim not akin to the "racist" demands that Obama produce proof of his birth in the United States, and the more concrete racism that asserted he truly was not? And (if you care to reach back so far) can her statement not be equated to suggestions that President John F. Kennedy would be beholden to the Vatican as the first (and to date only) Catholic to hold the presidency?

From what I can discern amongst her commentary, in Omar's mind, the rules that apply to her framework on race, ethnicity, religion, and culture as sacred idols above reproach do not extend to her Jewish contemporaries.

Oh, and may I remind you that over 70% of Jewish Americans voted for Hilary Clinton in 2016.

And yet, beyond even this hypocrisy, is the strange disdain Omar suddenly seems to hold for Barack Obama. Even as a non-Democrat, while I can find reason for this, it is still largely perplexing.

To begin with, I recognize that Ilhan Omar is not your prototypical Democrat. She would scoff at being termed a moderate, and likely would do the same to being labeled a traditional liberal. While she doesn't identify as an outright democratic socialist, one would have to be totally clueless to avoid putting her in the company of those who do, such as Tlaib or Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

As such, she's bound to have some critical evaluations of President Obama, despite the lionizing that the Democratic establishment has and continues to engage in. Two points still stick out to me as obvious incongruities in her statement, however.

First, Obama and Trump are nothing alike. Again, this coming from someone who does not regularly support either, I can at least attempt to claim objectivity. While Obama might not have been faithful to all the demands of the far-left during his presidency, his position on the political spectrum was far from the extreme bent that Trump has ventured into.

Secondly, there is the style of the two men to consider. While Obama had his share of goofs and gaffes (I still think it somewhat juvenile that he often refused to say "radical Islamic terrorism" when referring to Islamist extremists) he pales in comparison to Trump. Every week Trump has his foot caught in a new bear trap. Obama is enormously tame in comparison.

And in addition to all of that, one must beg the question of Omar's timing. With Republicans emboldened by her controversies and House Democratic leadership attempting to soothe the masses, why would Omar strike out at what's largely a popular figure for those that support her most? There seemed no motivation for the commentary and no salient reasoning to back it up, save that Omar wanted to speak her mind.

Such tactlessness is something that'll get you politically killed.

I do not believe Barack Obama was a great president, but that's not entirely important. I don't live in Ilhan Omar's district; her constituents believe Obama was a great president, and that should at least factor into her considerations. Or maybe she did weigh the negative value of such backlash and decided it wouldn't matter? 2019 isn't an election year, after all. Yet, even if that's the case, what's to gain by pissing off your superiors when they're already pissed off at you?

You need to pick your battles wisely in order to win the war, and I'm highly doubtful Omar will win any wars by pitching scorched-earth tactics over such minute concerns.

Her attitude reminds me not only of that of some of her colleagues engaging obtusely and unwisely over subjects that could best be shrugged off (see the AOC media controversies), but also some of my own acquaintances. They believe not only in the myth of their own infallibility, but the opposition bogeyman conjured by their status in a minority or marginalized group. As the logic goes, "I'm a member of x group, and being so gives me the right to decimate anyone who has any inclination to stand against me in any capacity, tit for tat." So much for civility.

I initially came here to defend Rep. Ilhan Omar, and I still do hold to that in certain cases. The opposition to some of her positions is unwarranted. She is allotted the freedom of speech, as are all Americans.

And yet, in certain other cases she has conducted herself brashly, and, one could argue, anti-Semitically.

All I can say is that I am content living adjacent to Minneapolis, not in it. You'd be hard-pressed to find me advocating for leadership that makes manifest in such impolitic fashion.

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