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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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?

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This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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