On March 15th, the world came to a harrowing standstill as fifty innocent lives were taken at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The shooter, a white supremacist from Australia, preceded his massacre by sending a manifesto to the New Zealand government, within which he claims that his intended victims were "invaders." He promptly proceeded to live-stream his attack on social media, taking innocent people's lives as a result of the true toxin poisoning our world today: white supremacy.
Different world leaders responded to the tragedy, offering their aid and solace to a nation in need. New Zealand's prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, took to her nation, embracing those within the Muslim community affected and changing history by banning semi-automatic weapons from New Zealand from this point forward. Her actions have hailed her as the kind of leader the world needs in desperate times such as these, one of grace, of progress, and of diligence. One who renounces the ideals that took her citizens' lives—one who does not refer to the holders of these ideals as "very fine people," for instance.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, President Donald Trump has done little to condemn the very acts of white supremacy and its inherent gun violence that have attacked his own country. The United States has become infamous for its rising amount of gun-caused deaths, including—but not limited to—the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the Tree of Life Synagogue, and the Route 91 Harvest music festival, all three contributing to a death toll of 87 lives and total injuries amounting to 524. The perpetrators of these heinous crimes, more often than not, attribute their actions to hatred of the groups and people they are attacking. For example, while not a shooting, the events in Charlottesville, North Carolina saw neo-Nazis preaching their hateful rhetoric, and in response to the violence and deaths that broke out at the counter-protests, President Trump called them "very fine people" rather than condemning their beliefs.
The United States, despite its countless tragedies attributed to gun violence and white supremacy, has done little to change the gun laws that make it so easy for these hateful people to commit their crimes. Even with movements like March For Our Lives, started by the Parkland students, there have been no national policies banning semi-automatic firearms, the very weapons with which these killers claim so many lives.
Gun control is not a matter of right or left, but right and wrong. White supremacy is a plague that is claiming nations one by one, and where there is no action taken by leaders to eradicate the disease, there is action taken by those causing it to only further the symptoms.
How many people must die for these weapons to be removed from civilian access? How many more tragedies must we become desensitized to? How many more statistics will we all become?
It is up to all world leaders to follow in Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's footsteps and condemn the hateful and xenophobic rhetoric and creed demonstrated by these supremacists. The world is watching, and history is waiting to see where the people of the present will fall. New Zealand, even while suffering from just one example of these tragic events, has done more than most nations, including the United States, in response to such violence.
Constitutions can change, amendments can be repealed or modified.
"What about the Second Amendment?" cry those opposing gun control. "It's my right!"
Your right to bear arms does not supersede my right and society's right to a safe and peaceful life, without fear of losing it to a supremacist with a weapon of war. The fact of the matter is that the logic behind the second amendment is flawed. When it was written, the right to bear arms was much more serious, as we were a nation on the doorstep of war. Nowadays, however, it has become the reason to have a gun in your house "just in case." Sure, this might come in handy in the off-chance situation of a home invasion or freak incident, but even if 40% of Americans keep guns in their residences, they are not being used for defense. In fact, the kinds of guns that people are most likely to keep "just in case" are handguns, which according to the BBC, cause approximately two-thirds of gun-related murders within the United States.
Now, this doesn't mean that handguns are more dangerous than assault rifles. Handguns may kill more people statistically, but assault rifles kill more people faster, as seen with mass shootings in recent years. A gun is a gun, and its sole purpose is to kill.
And yet, there has been little done to remove these weapons of war from civilian access. Politics and strategy aside, it is not a matter for debate. Studies have shown that states and countries with stricter gun laws, and therefore fewer guns, have decreased amounts of murders and suicides.
Having access to firearms does not make our world safer, but rather turns it into a time bomb waiting to go off. Only swift and efficient action through legislation can stop it and prevent further tragedy and loss of life.
Thoughts and prayers won't work this time. Truth is, they never have.