Why talking about America’s gun problem won’t solve anything

When I woke up this morning and heard the news that 50 people had been shot and killed at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, with 53 more being injured, I have to admit I wasn’t really that shocked. Now, by no means does that take away from the tragic nature of the situation, but rather I believe my reaction highlights a sense of complacency that has allowed this sort of behaviour to be considered normalized.

Seriously, how many times in the last year or two has this exact situation — whether that be in a theatre, a school and now a nightclub — been regurgitated and plastered all over the news? How many times has Obama gone up to the podium and said that, “We must fight hate and ignorance in unison” and that this is, “An attack on the whole nation.” (18 times through his tenure, if we’re keeping track). And, how many times have we said that we must revaluate gun laws, with the supposed out pouring of support from American politicians? The answer to all these questions is too many. Yet, despite these grandiose claims and discussions that take place following events such as these, what is actually being done to prevent this from ever happening again?

“Canada has seen 8 mass shootings in the last 20 years and there have been 7 in the US since Monday; if that doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will.”

Today, in the United States, it is easier to obtain a gun than it is an abortion. Women in many states have to wait 48 hours and jump through multiple hurdles, just to be able to make a decision that should inherently be their own. On the other hand, buying a gun in the US is as easy as buying diapers for your baby. Don’t believe me? Check out this video: http://money.cnn.com/2015/06/19/news/guns-background-checks/ .

To further illustrate this problem, a simple Google search shows that no other country in the world faces a gun problem even remotely similar to that of the US. In 2015 alone, the US faced a rate of gun violence that was 6x higher than Canada and 16x higher than Germany. Canada has seen 8 mass shootings in the last 20 years and there have been 7 in the US since Monday; if that doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will. Yes, Canada has 300 million less people, but even when you adjust for population size, the numbers don’t even come close to evening out.

The conclusion, more guns equals more violence. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that. Countries like Australia, that have taken a significantly stricter approach to their gun laws, have seen positive results in decreasing gun-related crimes. Since the Port Arthur massacre which saw 23 people killed and 35 more injured, there have been zero mass shootings in Australia in 20 years, zero. Gun laws save lives people.

Despite these apparent conclusions that anyone with a little research can come up with, I still saw people on Twitter today making claims such as, “We should have banned airplanes after 9/11” or, “A single person with a concealed weapon in the club could have stopped the shooter.”

Although these arguments are based in little fact or merit, they are often used by citizens, politicians, and gun enthusiasts to justify the prevalence of guns. However, what’s telling from these statements is the deeply engrained, backwards culture that gun ownership holds within the US. When you have gun lobbyists like the NRA (National Rifle Association), it is easy to understand why this is the case. Politicians across the country today rushed to Twitter to offer their “condolences” for the victims, yet when election season rolls around, they will be the same people calling for more lenient gun laws. And, why wouldn’t they? Their campaigns are partially being funded by the NRA after all. Not only is it absolutely disgusting to see something like this, but what’s worse is that as ordinary citizens we have perpetuated this culture by electing these public officials who are supposed to prevent events like the Orlando shooting from ever happening. How is that going to happen when these politicians, are the ones that are in bed with the gun lobbyists.

NRA influence on politicians and gun laws
“We’re just 164 days into 2016 and the US has already seen 133 mass shooting.”

After seeing this, it is no wonder that change for gun laws has been slow. Politicians and Congress as a whole are perpetuating gun culture in America. In my eyes, they are just as much to blame for the situation that we are currently in — facing the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in US history. There is absolutely no reason why ordinary citizens should be able to purchase automatic weapons that are designed to do nothing else, but kill. Which is why people like myself or anybody for the matter, has no right to be “shocked” by these situations anymore because they have become part of American culture. We’re just 164 days into 2016 and the US has already seen 133 mass shooting. With the frequency of mass shootings increasing from 6 months to 2 months in the last 5 years, attacks like the one in San Bernardino, Sandy Hook, and now today’s shooting in Orlando, will only continue to happen. Until we do something to change the status quo, gun violence isn’t going to change.

So, what’s the rub? I think the outpouring of support on social media is amazing. To see so many people come together to support a cause is heartwarming. But your prayers and thoughts will do little to change the status quo, unless we truly do something about it.

  • Stop electing politicians that are supported by the NRA.
  • Stop perpetuating gun culture in the US with lenient laws and the purchasing of weapons.
  • And, stop creating a culture of complacency that is plaguing the United States.

Every time an event such as the shooting today takes place, there is a lot of discourse and talks of actions being taken, yet very little actually happens. Amidst all the chaos, talks of change make it seem like actionable things are occurring, when in reality these talks simply act as a filler until the next news cycle comes around. Soon the event passes, the talks finish, and we slowly wait for this cycle to take place again when another shooting happens. The US has premised itself on perpetuating hate, ignorance, and bigotry by giving people the ability to take matters into their own hands. Fighting this kind of ignorance begins with not enabling individuals to breed it.

We enable these actions, yet people are outraged when such events happen. Why? Have we done anything differently? Change occurs when there is a willingness to improve and move forward. This begins with ordinary people not accepting the status quo and fighting to ensure this kind of change occurs. This may be too much of an optimistic approach, but it is through this mentality that I believe the world as a whole has consistently been able to move forward.

I truly hope that this mass shooting will be the one that changes gun policies in America. People need to place their support behind individuals who have the power to wield actionable change, not behind those that will continue along the beaten path of complacency. The point of the government is to prevent these sort of tragedies, not enable them. Gun laws in the US clearly don’t work. Now, how about we go and do something about it.

Want to continue the discussion? Shoot me an email ankur.gupta@queensu.ca. If you enjoyed, hit the green like button :)
Cheers