We Can All Do Something

Inscribed on a plaque inside of the Statue of Liberty is Emma Lazarus’ sonnet “The New Colossus”. The most famous line from the poem “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” represented the country that we were, or at least the country that we idealized ourselves to be. These days, a more fitting quote to engrave on lady liberty would be “another day, another slaughter at the hands of an asshole with an assault weapon”. This is who we are now, on a daily basis people touched by American gun violence experience a Hurricane Katrina-like tragedy.

The levees in New Orleans pre-Katrina practically served as a ticking time-bomb, only needing a severe storm to set it off. There were countless warnings in the years leading up to the disastrous failing of the levees, but they were either ignored, or they were noted and subsequently brushed off. The funding couldn’t be found to repair the levees, all while billions upon billions were being poured into an illegal war in Iraq. American gun violence currently works in a very similar way. Common sense solutions like the expansion of background checks, and the banning of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that were part of the failed Manchin-Toomey amendment in 2013 were spurned in favor of political expediency.

It has been painfully evident that many of the people we elect to represent us in Washington have prioritized maintaining funding from the gun lobby and winning their next election over making sure that first graders aren’t slaughtered in their classrooms. The issue of American gun violence isn’t only one of a legislative nature, it’s also an issue of morality. The fact that the people paid to represent our interests are beholden to an entity that ultimately profits from the shedding of our blood is a failing on a human level just as much as it’s a failing on a professional level.

One way to squash this dynamic will need to come by repealing Citizens United. For those that don’t know, Citizens United is the name of a 2010 supreme court ruling that allows certain entities (such as the NRA and the gun lobby) to participate in unlimited political spending seemingly “independent” from certain parties or candidates. Candidates are usually able to coordinate with these generous entities through clever uses of loopholes. Putting a cap on what certain groups can spend would actually return a certain measure of power to the people, making it more realistic that common sense gun control legislation passes and remains in place.

While overhauling the corrupt system that enables the gun lobby to buy the politicians we already pay to represent us, there are more gun safety measures we must invest in and implement. Stringent background checks (people on FBI watch lists shouldn’t be allowed to buy guns), and requiring that gun owners get a permit with each new gun purchase along with the banning of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are the necessary place to start, but the world of gun-safety technology is always providing us with new ways to prevent tragedies.

Biometric finger print gun locks and/or standard gun locks should be a required accessory each time a person decides to purchase a firearm. A biometric lock would’ve prevented the slaughter at Sandy Hook due to the fact that the firearm was purchased by the mother of the shooter. The number of shootings, both accidental and deliberate would be greatly reduced by a required biometric lock, or lock of any kind on every gun.

Another thing that is necessary is a legitimate push to crack down on illegal guns. Under an assault weapons ban the country could implement a massive gun buyback program, giving people good prices on the newly illegal weapons. This could also extend to illegally obtained firearms, granting perpetrators amnesty in exchange for their illegal weapons. In conjunction with this program, we would need to use our law enforcement to confiscate illegal guns that are still on the streets, heavily fining first offenders and possibly jailing repeat offenders.

Past events like Sandy Hook and recent tragedies like the last night’s attack on an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando are heartbreaking tragedies that often leave us feeling helpless, but we aren’t, we can fight this. The options at our disposal are so numerous that I’ve left out things like mandatory in-depth screening processes for prospective gun owners and longer waiting periods. We can beat the gun lobby, and we all have a role to play in this fight. Whether you write a letter to your congressman, participate in civil disobedience, or vote for a politician who shares your values, we are all capable of doing something.