For the victims’ families and loved ones, this is a tragedy. But this shooting isn’t just a random catastrophe, and no pro-gun politicians get to call it one unless they also recognize their role in enabling it.
While public figures will undoubtedly continue to relay their thoughts and prayers, this is the reality: shootings where a great many people are slaughtered are now normal in the United States. This will continue until we all agree to stricter gun laws and fewer guns. Until then, all those who fight against sensible gun legislation have no business simply expressing their sympathies. They offer just words, which at this point are beyond meaningless.
Again, any sensible person knows this.
How else, other than with a gun, can one easily kill a dozen people in just a few minutes? It’s difficult and risky to build a bomb, and you can’t buy one at your local Wal-Mart. And a knife attack is much easier to stop; mass stabbings have certainly occurred, but they do not claim anywhere near the number lives that guns do in the US.
Plenty of people like guns. Guns can be fun to shoot. A lot of people hunt for sport. A relatively small number of gun owners need their guns to, say, defend livestock from predators. But most gun owners do not need their guns. Many say they need to self-protect. But stricter gun control laws would mean fewer “bad guys with guns” to protect oneself from. We would all be safer.
The NRA and other “gun rights” proponents claim that if guns are restricted, only outlaws and bad guys will have guns. But if it were harder to buy guns, they would also stay out of the hands of irresponsible men and women, whose negligent treatment of their weapons results in a great number of deaths and injuries every year, many of which involve children. Many criminals, too, aren’t the plotting masterminds we imagine them to be. A tougher road to gun ownership would mean that impetuous gun crimes, or crimes of passion, would simply be less likely to happen.
We, as a country, face a choice. Every gun owner and gun proponent faces a choice. We can allow easy access to guns and the fun they bring, and let people enjoy the sense of power and control and masculinity guns offer. In exchange for that pat emotional comfort, thousands upon thousands of Americans will continue to die unnecessarily. Or we can agree that the only way to prevent gun violence and gun deaths is to regulate guns; sacrificing the illusion that a gun equals freedom is probably worth it.
Another 12 innocent people have been gunned down. Don’t just nod along as politicians issue their thoughts and prayers. They have the power to take action. The only question that matters is, will they?