CHULAK: Victims of gun violence need more than just condolences
Opinions Column: The Hard Truth
As we stand in the wake of yet another tragedy at the hands of gun violence, this time in Las Vegas where at least 58 lives were lost and an additional 500 were injured, the American people are wondering how many massacres need to occur for something to be done. All decent human beings recognize that this is a despicable act that has no place in a moral society and we all send our love and support to those affected by it. We are all angry that something like this can happen in our communities, but this is not a new trend. This has been happening since the dawn of our country and as weapon capabilities have advanced, the death tolls have increased. The real question we need to ask is how are we going to prevent this from happening again. Our anger needs to be directed toward our leaders, who refuse to have a discussion on common sense gun legislation. Instead, they decide to send their thoughts and prayers to the victims while cashing their checks from the National Rifle Association (NRA) every election cycle. It appears every time there is another tragic mass murder, gun rights advocates rally behind the Second Amendment and argue that this would have happened regardless because there is nothing we can do to prevent these senseless shootings. Immediately after the Las Vegas shooting, politicians offered their thoughts and prayers to the families and victims affected by this heinous act. But prominent congressional leaders claim that now is not the time to work on thoughtful gun legislation, arguing instead that we should focus on aiding victims and their families, but the truth is their thoughts and prayers mean nothing if they refuse to act to prevent this senseless violence in the future.
I am certainly not arguing for us to abolish the Second Amendment and completely ban firearms throughout the country, but there is absolutely no reason that a person should be able to purchase 33 weapons in a single year. We are a nation of laws and we have a constitution that grants every citizen the right to bear arms, but our founding fathers certainly did not intend for every citizen to own automatic machine guns. We need to enact common sense gun legislation that requires stricter background checks, mandates mental health evaluations and closes gun show/internet loopholes. It is disingenuous to offer condolences while refusing to act. Congress needs to muster up the strength to stand up to the gun lobby and do what’s right for America and their constituents. Earlier this year Congress and the White House repealed a bill that was designed to block gun sales to the mentally ill and later this week Congress plans to vote on the SHARE Act, which would make it easier to purchase silencers for weapons. Clearly, this Congress does not intend to reduce gun violence in America. They can hide behind the Second Amendment and their obscure ideological points, but the American people should know that they are simply tools of the gun lobby with little to no compassion or conviction. If their acts don’t speak volumes, it may make more sense to look at the reasoning behind those actions. The gun lobby gave nearly $6 million to House Republicans during the 2016 election cycle.
The terrorist who perpetrated the attacks on Sunday owned 47 weapons that were purchased legally in Nevada, California, Utah and Texas along with a “bump stock” device that allowed him to shoot semi-automatic weapons at a much faster rate. There is no justifiable reason that any person should be able to legally purchase deadly weapons with minimal oversight. It’s counterproductive and puts our lives in danger. After the Port Arthur attack in Australia in 1996 that took the lives of 35 and wounded an additional 23, the Australian government implemented a ban on semi-automatic and automatic weapons. And since then there has not been another massacre in Australia. Yes, one can argue that criminals will find ways to purchase weapons illegally, but are we really going to use that as a rationale to make it easier to purchase a machine that was designed to kill people? One can also argue that every citizen has the right to own a gun protected by the second amendment, but do we really want to live in a world where we are under the constant threat of gun violence? Nobody wants to see another tragic shooting. We have waited far too long and have seen far too many lives taken before their time to sit back and do nothing. It is not enough for us to offer our condolences, we need our leaders to show some moral backbone and enact common sense gun control legislation.
Daniel Chulak is a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior majoring in environmental and business economics with a minor in German. His column, "The Hard Truth," runs on alternate Thursdays.
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