The factors that come into play when discussing gun violence are endless; the Pulse Nightclub shooting was caused by a lack of tolerance towards the LGBTQ+ community, and the root of Sandy Hook was deemed to be mental illness. The reasons proposed for these violent actions fall almost always under the category of a lack of communication, understanding, and/or tolerance. If people were able to communicate their struggles with others, understand the damage some of their actions may create, and were brought up practicing love and tolerance towards other humans, we could prevent so many senseless acts fueled by the absence of these elements. However, it is clear that people in power are not willing to do anything about this. “Thoughts and prayers” is empty rhetoric commonly used in the aftermath of mass shootings, yet there is never any dialogue about what the root cause of the violence is, or how to realistically fix the problem. While the president of the United States tends to blame the problem on mental health issues, he still never proposes to raise awareness, create programmes which would help assist in communication of emotions, or even make the slightest effort to find a solution to this problem. I admit that changing an entire society and establishing inclusivity, understanding, and communication as fundamentals is difficult to do, as tangible progress would not easily be seen. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that we should not attempt to change the situation at hand for the better.
If we’re not willing to fight for a better society, or even endorse it, a reasonable alternative option would be gun control. The United States has some of the loosest gun laws in the world and it shows in their statistics; the country has more than three and a half times the amount of gun homicides as the country with the second highest rate of gun homicides, Switzerland. Although the concept of gun control terrifies many National Rifle Association (NRA) members, gun control does not mean that firearms would be banned, and would not necessarily result in a dangerous black market of gun distribution. This is a common misconception that most gun advocates attempt to circulate, but the truth of the matter is that better gun control in the United States would consist of simple but important measures, such as prohibiting semi-automatic and automatic weapons, and requiring extensive background and mental health checks before the distribution and sale of a firearm. Additionally, gun advocates use the Second Amendment in regards to freedom, as well as protection, in order to defend their possession of these weapons. However, the defense of gun possession is solely based on fear, not freedom; an irrational fear of being overpowered, challenged, or having one’s privileges taken by the government or other citizens. The fear even extends to the argument of gun owners using their weapons as defense against others, who also hold the power to obtain and use them. In an ever-changing world, we cannot afford to keep rules, regulations, and ideologies based on fears that no longer have a place in modern society. Gun control has been proven time and time again to work in numerous different countries. The fact that many citizens of the United States hold their irrational fears, pride, and possessiveness over an opportunity for safety, well-being, strengthened trust, and a greater sense of unity, is astonishing.
If people in the possession of power are not willing to change the root of all of these problems, it is their responsibility to control the lethal vessel with which problems are being communicated. With the privilege of handling firearms comes the abuse of this privilege, and entrusting millions of people with these fatal weapons is an immense amount of power that leaders can no longer take chances with. Children, teenagers, and adults have all lost their lives as a result of the carelessness and stubbornness of leaders who refuse to change, and who refuse to make change. If not societal change, or even any form of gun control, something needs to be done. Rhetoric is pointless, submitting to the status quo in this case is incredibly destructive, and an effort needs to be made.