When Stephen Paddock caused a mass shooting of 58 people attending a country music festival in Las Vegas on Monday, politicians, celebrities, and middle aged moms on social media alike shared something along the lines of "my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families." Even the president of Muhlenberg College sent in an email to the entire college, "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this horrific attack, including not only those killed or injured but all who attended the concert, as well as their families and loved ones." He then went on to remind the community of the resources Religious Life and Counseling Services have to offer.
Think back to June 2016. The same thing happened then. A man killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. People were praying for the victims and their families. They talked about gun control. They lamented about terrorists. They prayed.
They let this happen again sixteen months later.
I'm not here to ramble about how stupid praying is and to shove atheist propaganda down your throat. I'm here to get you to think a little harder and then shove gun control propaganda down your throat.
Many politicians who posted about their "thoughts and prayers" receive millions of dollars in funding from the National Rifle Association, so one can imagine that the current conversation on gun control will not reach the House before the next mass shooting happens. I started to wonder if people literally got down and prayed, and if they did, what for? Did they pray for the victims' families to find peace? Did they pray for Stephen Paddock's soul to burn in hell? Or did they see this on the news, shake their head, and tweet about it? We live in a world where people can easily pretend they care about something by saying they do behind a screen, and sometimes if they don't, they get attacked. Once you post about it, though, you're done. You're free to go. You can move on.
Here's another thing: this same thing happened in June 2016 with the Pulse shooting. However, the conversation is a little different: the Pulse shooter was an American-born Muslim man who was inspired by ISIS, whereas the Las Vegas shooter is a white American man. Both killed dozens of innocent people with multiple weapons that were legally purchased. Only one is universally agreed to be a terrorist.
We cannot change the past, but we define the future. Don't get me wrong, you have the right to pray and tweet and post to your heart's content. But when you're done praying and posting and tweeting, what do you do? Do you participate in the dialogue about gun control, or do you avoid it and move on because you're "not political?" If the latter is the case, I have bad news for you: this affects you, too. You live in a world where a person can buy 30+ guns, kill 58 people, and not be deemed a terrorist. You live in a world where all Muslim-Americans are judged by the actions of an overseas group—even if you claim you don't judge Muslim-Americans by their homeland's problems, you live in a world where they are. Are you going to think and pray about it and move on? That's fine, that's your right. But what are you going to do next? Are you going to fight for a better future for yourself and future generations? Or are you too busy to take charge of your future?
Here are some interesting findings from Anytown Research, which collects data on gun violence from the CDC and the FBI:
On an average day, 93 Americans are killed with guns.
Seven people under the age of 19 are killed on an average day with guns.
50 women are killed with guns by their intimate partners in an average month.
The United States account for 82% of gun deaths among developed countries, but only 46% of the population.
Black men are 14 times more likely than non-Hispanic white men to be killed by guns.
Admittedly, over 3 million people have been prohibited from buying a gun between 1994 and 2014 thanks to government-mandated background checks. But that's not enough. Stephen Paddock bought over 30 guns, brought them into a hotel room, and killed 58 people from a window. Another fun fact: toy guns are banned from the Las Vegas strip as per a 2012 ordinance targeting unlicensed street performers, but real guns are not. Everything Stephen Paddock did, except for killing 58 people, was legal.
We need to be put in check. Yes, the mass shooters of the 21st century have either killed themselves or been brought to justice. But our justice system is not a deterrent for aspiring mass shooters. Why wasn't it over in 2012 when Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and shot and killed 20 children and 6 teachers? There was a great push for gun control laws, but clearly, very little was done. What this says about America is that we value an outdated constitutional amendment more than the lives of children. Guns in the 17th century, when the Bill of Rights was composed, were nowhere near as effective as the guns that are so easy to obtain today. How do you think the Founding Fathers would react to the Las Vegas shooting, and all of its tragic predecessors? Guns have evolved for the worse, and I think they would have regretted their decision on the Second Amendment.
So pray if you want to, but think of the information I've provided you with. I've done my thinking, and now I'm going to do. As a future teacher, I do not want a person with a gun anywhere near my school. As a citizen of America otherwise minding her own business, I don't want a person with a gun anywhere near me. I don't want to live in a country where that is as possible as it is. I'm going to call my representative and senators and tell them that I've had enough. What will you do?