From the living room of my Bronx apartment, you can see a school with an American flag flying on its roof. It's a truly majestic sight, this high-flying flag. And it's a tragic sight when it's flying at half-mast, which it is as I write this, and which it was after the last shooting, and the one before that, and so on. This time it's for Thousand Oaks, where 12 men and women, many of them college-aged, were murdered. Last time it was for Pittsburgh, where an anti-semite killed 11 Jewish people at Tree of Life Synagogue.
Who knows what community they'll lower it for next time, or for how many poor, innocent victims. Maybe those victims are churchgoers. Maybe they're college students like myself. Maybe they're schoolchildren. We don't know yet. But I'll know when I get home from class one day and sit down on my couch and look out that window and see that flag flying low again, at which point I'll shake my head and say "how awful". But I'm tired of doing that. I'm sick of looking at that half-mast flag. Lowering the flag to half-mast doesn't bring those people back, and it doesn't do anything for the next victims. We need action.
Let's say we, as a country, introduce a gun control measure that stops just one person from getting gun. It's generally ineffective, but it works once, or maybe a few times. Let's say that one of those few people that are denied a gun was planning on shooting up a Mosque in an act of Islamophobic hatred. Now he can't. Dozens of lives are saved. Is it not worth it? If we can stop even one mass shooting with gun control legislation, would it not be a success?
There's a reason that mass shootings seem to be a uniquely American epidemic. It's because we refuse to take any form of action to stop them. We shake our heads, maybe even shed a tear, and say "wow, how senselessly tragic". And then we move on, until the next one, at which point we'll do it all again. That's the American way. USA, baby.
We need change. We need to prioritize action human lives over the enjoyment of having a weapon with catastrophic capabilities. We need to liberate our government of the dirty, oppressive NRA dollars, and we need to recognize the NRA as complicit in these shootings. We need to find solutions. And to have solutions, we have to have data. But, since 1996 under the Dickey Amendment, the CDC hasn't been allowed to research the causes of gun violence. And although the verbiage was changed this year in order to allow research, the government has not provided any funding, making the reform essentially useless. This has to change.
I'm fed up with looking at that cursed half-mast flag, I'm fed up with the thoughts and prayers, and I'm fed up with hearing heartbroken parents profess their love for their murdered children. It has to stop, now.