The Uproar

This is Not a Drill

Gun violence in America has become sickeningly unsurprising

photo montage by Kaycee Orwig

photo montage by Kaycee Orwig

Anya Soller, Opinions Editor

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Two weeks ago, a 15 year old opened fire in his Kentucky high school and killed two of his classmates. Despite the horrible tragedy and the serious implication of this being the thirteenth mass shooting in the first month of 2018, the news cycle quickly moved on to other distressing stories, which seem to be in no short supply recently.

What may have been front page news ten years ago, or even five, has become another footnote in the growing list of this country’s mass shootings. It seems every day there are more victims, more statistics, and more debate over how to deal with the ridiculously inflated number of attacks. Bailey Holt and Preston Cope are the newest additions to the list of casualties every American mourns and moves on from soon after.

I’m tired. In fact, I’m exhausted. I think, in a way, we all are. It’s hard to care. To put in the emotional work, reflect, and grieve. No person can maintain the level of outrage these tragedies call for. I’m tired of waking up every morning and dreading the news alerts that I have seen too often. I’m tired of performing lockdown drills while the kid next to me in class shops Wal-Mart’s gun selection “just for fun.” I’m tired of wondering where the next shooting will be. A movie theater? A concert? An elementary school? I’m tired of wondering when the other shoe will drop. Again. And again. And again.

Outrage fuels the fire of progress; without it, we are doomed to remain frozen in our present complicity.”

What I’m most tired of, though, is the arguments used over and over to explain why this keeps happening. Politicians insist nothing can be done and move legislation at a glacial pace until the American people are distracted by the President’s latest incorrect tweet or powerful figure’s sex scandal. While those topics are worthy of attention, our willingness to push away the complex emotions of a national tragedy so quickly is troubling. It’s that conscious ignorance that prevents change. Outrage fuels the fire of progress; without it, we are doomed to remain frozen in our present complicity.

When it comes down to it, it’s not about violent video games or the lack of support for the mentally ill or any other vague excuse we try to come up with the to justify the capacity for multiple individuals to take so many lives. It’s how they are able to. When it comes down to it, the only way to prevent mass shootings is to control what and how many guns are available to Americans every day. Our right to feel safe is more important than the Founding Fathers’ assertion that every man should have the right to a musket in his home.

At this point, we have to choose whether the 2nd Amendment is worth the lives of the Baileys and Prestons we lose every day. Would you rather have a gun to “protect yourself from other people with guns” or not need one in the first place? Would you rather hunt with a semi-automatic rifle or not have to fear looking down the barrel of one while you sit in class? Amendments can be changed; laws can be changed. The insistence on keeping an outdated and downright dangerous provision in our Constitution is fundamentally harmful.

When 26 children and teachers were killed in Sandy Hook and the country did nothing, I knew the shootings would never stop. If legislators were willing to pretend there was no way those deaths could have been prevented, there’s no reason it wouldn’t happen again. The time for civil debate, careful political maneuvering, moderacy, and common ground is over. It’s time to do something. Anything. Even the smallest restrictions could prevent the next tragedy.

Two days after the attack in Kentucky, a teenager in Fayette County, an hour from Wexford, was arrested for stockpiling weapons and orchestrating a mass school shooting at his high school. This isn’t a something that happens “somewhere else.” It could have happened here. I’m tired of wondering when. And you should be, too.

7 Comments

7 Responses to “This is Not a Drill”

  1. Josie Wadlow on February 8th, 2018 9:57 pm

    Anya,
    Great piece. Your reflection on this topic is one that everyone should read. It is very thought-provoking, and led me to think deeper about the issue. This is for sure something that should be addressed by our country as a whole.

    [Reply]

  2. Cam Phillips on February 9th, 2018 4:47 pm

    You establish a false dichotomy that undermines any substantiality that existed in your argument. Unfortunately, restricting legal gun ownership will not put an end to gun crime and mass shootings, and abolishing the second amendment will only move the US closer to the fascist state so many liberals claim Donald Trump is imposing. Guns are not only used to “protect oneself from other people with guns” as you claim, but also to protect against the tyranny of government. Most shootings are perpetrated with illegally acquired guns, and our current system actually does a very good job of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. More laws restricting ownership are the last thing we need.

    [Reply]

    Madelynn Stibbard Reply:

    If the government is doing that great of a job as you say, then why do we still have among the highest rates of gun violence and mass shootings in the world? And how realistic is it really that the government is going to turn against its people and wage war on them anytime soon? Can you name a single instance in which we have even come close to such an event since the Revolutionary War? And maybe gun restrictions may not fix the problem entirely, but it’s better than what you have proposed–which is nothing! That is the point of this article! We are doing nothing! And every day that we do nothing is another day that someone has to fall victim to gun violence. So what do you want to do about that? Let me guess: nothing?

    [Reply]

    Roshie Xing Reply:

    If you think about it, guns in fact exacerbate violence and increase the risk of death in violent incidents. Where previously two individuals may come to blows due to a conflict, with guns, they now have the capacity to instantaneously end another’s life. Furthermore, a reason why police encounters today so often end in a gun going off–not to let officers shirk the responsibility of their actions–is that it is expected for Americans to own guns. Thus, when police see a suspect rummaging around in their pockets, they must automatically jump to the worst case scenario and pull out their own weapon preemptively. Additionally, the data simply doesn’t support your assertion that restricting gun access does not reduce gun violence. There is a high school shooting in this country every 60 hours. 315 people are shot in this country every day, 93 fatally, including 7 minors. We live in a country that averages 89 guns per every 100 people, with the vast majority concentrated by certain owners. The nearest country to this? War-torn Yemen. We have more than 25 times the gun deaths than the average developed country, yet have an overall violent crime rate lower than the international average. We have 4.4% of the world’s total population, but 42% of the world’s civilian-owned guns. There is a positive correlation between states with the highest gun deaths (Wyoming, Montana, Alabama) and those with the loosest gun laws. All the data (what data there is) point to the fact that there is a relationship between gun violence and gun ownership/lack of regulation of sales. In addition, rather than what you have stated, our current system does a terrible job of keeping guns out of the hands of convicted criminals, just as it does for those with suspected problems, such as potentially violence-inducing mental illnesses. The Sutherland Springs shooter? He had been dishonorably discharged from the military for domestic abuse. The Pulse night club shooter? A history of spousal abuse. The Parkland, FL shooter from just yesterday? Supposedly abusive to his ex-girlfriend and linked to a white supremacist group in his region. The Virginia Tech shooter? A history of mental illness and violent tendencies that went unreported. Yet all of them were able to buy guns. Not just any guns, but for many of them, AR-15’s, a type of weapon that was originally used in the Vietnam War for its incredibly killing abilities, and a weapon that, in a fraction of a second, can turn a human’s liver into the consistency of jello. It’s not that current regulations are bad and have thus allowed all these people to slip through the cracks, it’s that more and stronger regulations are needed to ensure that they are caught. Most perpetrators of mass shootings buy their weapons through completely legal means. They’re not breaking any laws, because there aren’t many in the first place to break. I agree, however, with your point that “abolishing” the second amendment (although you can’t really do that, you’d have to repeal it via a 3/4 vote from the states, which is likely impossible) would be un-Constitutional and a vast overreach of power. No one, despite your paranoia, wants to take your guns. We just want to regulate them–common sense regulations like universal background checks (only 13 states require background checks before the purchase of a gun), ensuring that those on the no-fly list are unable to purchase guns, putting stricter regulations on minors buying guns (the Parkland shooter was able to buy a lethal killing machine before he could legally drink), etc.–so that they don’t end up in the hands of people with wrong intentions. I also bristle at your belief that guns are necessary to protect people from the government. Exactly what kind of people, though? Cliven Bundy and co, perhaps, who were using their guns to defend against a “tyrannical” government (also breaking a multitude of laws, in the process)? But what about progressive activists? What about people of color, or those fighting white supremacists and neo-Nazis asserting their 2nd Amendment rights? They are treated with fear and disgust for asserting the very same rights, albeit with different purposes. Finally, one need only look to Australia (or really, any other country in the world) to see the successes of regulation. After a massacre left 35 people dead, the conservative government enacted strict regulations and even a mandatory gun-buyback program. From 1997 to today (a span of 21 years), they had no mass shootings. To put it into comparison, we average a mass shooting per day, most of which fly under the radar. Of course, it’s not a perfect comparison, and Australia’s system and culture are much different than ours, but the facts are evident. Australia holds a strict system of regulations in regards to guns, and they haven’t had a single mass shooting in 20 plus years. We have the highest per capita amount of guns, extremely loose gun regulations (which, by the way, are more often than not loosened after mass shootings), and have had 1844 deaths from gun so far this year, around a month and a half in. If we don’t do anything in way of tighter regulations and closing loopholes, then what can we do? Offer more “thoughts and prayers,” and just hope that we and our school won’t be caught in a rampage?

    [Reply]

    Cam Phillips Reply:

    I don’t have time to retort every point you make in this short essay, but I can speak to a few. First of all, there is absolutely nothing wrong with offering thoughts and prayers to victims of terrorism, even if it supersedes taking emotional legislative action. Throughout response you critique a number of things about the current state of the US, but primarily the gun homicide per capita figure, which I will immediately tell you is a misleading statistic. Instead of gun homicide per capita, consider gun death per gun, as this more accurately dissects the belief that guns somehow autonomously kill people. The gun control utopias of Australia, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Portugal, England, Netherlands, Japan, Poland, and South Korea have more homicides per gun than the US. Canada, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Finland all have only slightly fewer than us. This means that more gun ownership DOES NOT lead to more gun homicide. Of note is that you cite that there have been 1844 gun deaths per year, but fail to realize that total gun deaths are essentially statistically irrelevant when comparing the US to other countries, and just serve as an appeal to emotion. In addition, despite significant increase in gun ownership since the 1990s, homicide as a whole has decreased by almost half. As to your point that nobody is advocating for repealing the second amendment, Anya literally advocates for that in her article. You state that perpetrators of mass shootings buy guns through legal means, so what would your proposition of tighter regulation and closed loopholes do to stop that? The issue with the Florida highschool was of government incompetence, as the shooter was a member of a white supremacist group, had made threats in the past, had a history of discipline problems, yet was allowed to purchase a gun. There is a certain amount of competence expected on the part of the government with regard to the mentally ill and dangerous. I wish there were an easy solution to this issue, but sadly, it does not exist. It is in the best interest of the people and the government to not let single mass shootings get in the way of logical judgement. Mourn, but do not become hysterical at the failures of the system. Hope for change, but do not become upset when many Americans value liberty and their individual rights and safety over a more collective safety, that would supposedly be imposed with more regulations on guns.

    [Reply]

  3. Jaime Martinez on February 12th, 2018 8:43 pm

    One of the most important foundations for our democracy is checks and balances; the legislators have checks on the President, the President on the legislators, and both with the judicial system. However, the most important check is often left out; the check between the people and the government. If we do not agree with something the government does, we have an obligation and a responsibility to step up, speak up, and vote (once we can vote, of course). Therefore, this “fascist” state that you talk about is, I think, a really flawed concept: the mere fact that more gun regulations are needed as a check against ourselves, to make sure that guns don’t get into the hands of people who can’t handle them. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue, this is an AMERICAN issue. The news, time and time again, has shown us through their reporting that these attacks are with guns that are legally purchased. Abolishing the second amendment is a gross and hyperbolic misrepresentation of what is trying to happen in the current political environment (I think the article misphrased what it wanted to get across).

    [Reply]

  4. Nick Giorgetti on February 14th, 2018 6:37 pm

    You said it well, “I’m tired.” I too am infuriated by the violence in this country. We have been desensitized to violence in America. A school shooting where 17 kids die will still not be enough to create change. I understand it is a constitutional right to own guns but this is out of hand. Children should not attend school with the thought of death lurking in their mind. And what’s sad is all the pro-gun politicians will do is “send prayers” and say “now’s not the time to discuss this.” Well when is? How many kids will have to die before we at least try to change. It’s cliche, but actions speak louder than words. And all the NRA will say is words and claim good guys with guns will stop bad guys with guns.

    This is an amazing country, but on days where 17 children are slaughtered in school, I am ashamed of my country.

    [Reply]

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