I Don’t Want to Pray for Another City

As I write this post, the latest mass shooting/act of hate/terrorist attack has surpassed Virginia Tech as the deadliest massacre in US soil since 9/11. Earlier today a man identified as Omar Mateen opened fire using an AR-15 on the crowd of a gay club in Orlando, killing over 50 people and leaving 50+ more injured. It is an undeniable tragedy. But it is far scarier to realize that acts like this have become so normal, that our response on social media has become so natural. We “send our prayers” to the families of the victims, and “our thoughts” are always with the city where the shooting took place. We are outraged for a week or two until our terribly short attention span moves on to the next piece of breaking news on the 24 hour news cycle. But we are not the only ones to use Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to send these messages of sorrow; presidential candidates politicians are always amongst the first to share their prayers and messages. We need to be realistic and stop pretending that all the clickactivism we use to show the rest of the world we care about these tragedies actually does something to stop these awful acts.

How can politicians keep on sending their thoughts to the families of “those affected” when they are not willing to pass any kind of regulation on automatic weapons? More importantly, how can the American people continue to be outraged every couple of months, but not do anything to pressure their representatives to move against these tragedies? At this point, the matter of gun control needs to move away from being a dividing issue and become policy under which both parties can unite. As much as Republicans and some Democrats may not like Bernie Sanders, he has proven that enough people can come together to overcome the influence of Super PACs and lobbying interests in controlling the political agenda. And that is no small feat. This is the perfect time to do it: according to a PEW Research Center survey from 2015, 57% of Americans — from both sides of the aisle — approve a ban on assault-style weapons, and 85% approve of having better background checks for gun shows and private sales.

Politicians, right-wing voters, and, more importantly, the NRA need to stop making the gun control issue a battle of “Government vs. the People”. Likewise, Americans need to stop falling for the narrative the NRA is feeding them, and realize that their constitutional right to own guns is not at stake here. Voters need to see the reality: there is no reason for a citizen of a nation at peace (at least within its borders) to own or purchase an automatic weapon. If the biggest argument anyone can give us is that, even after guns are regulated, the “bad guys” will find a way to get them, regulation at least gets guns away from unstable people. People like the Orlando shooter, or the Aurora shooter, or the Sandy Hook shooter, etc. There are many other things that could be said about this debate, but President Obama does a better job at explaining the issue with gun control in America that I ever could. Here he is at PBS NewsHour only a week before the attack in Orlando happened:

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Originally published at dnl340.wordpress.com on June 12, 2016.