The Harbinger Online

Increased Gun Control is Needed

What happens in Vegas no longer stays in Vegas. It stays with the families of the 59 killed and the near 500 injured. It stays with the Jason Aldean fans, who have blood-stained cowboy boots and shirts from using their bodies to shield each other
from flying bullets. It stays in the history books that will label it as the worst mass shooting in United States History.

The nation woke up on Monday, Oct. 2 to yet another heartbreaking tragedy. A white American man – not a Muslim nor a Mexican – obtained automatic military-style firearms and murdered  innocent people. Police will spend their time trying to answer the trivial question of whether or not the shooter obtained his guns legally. Yet, the real question that needs to be addressed is why our country allows such weapons in the hands of civilians in the first place.

We may not be able to control the violent impulses of our citizens, but we can limit the semiautomatic and automatic weapons available to them. Failing to do so is political cowardice. This is not the nation we intrinsically are,
but the nation we have chosen to be: hostile, fearful and heartbroken.

According to BBC News, numerous polls have shown widespread public support for strengthened background checks and banning certain types of high-capacity gun magazines and military-style assault rifles. But on the federal level, no action has been taken in decades. If history acts as any guide, this shooting will not propel Congress to serve justice for the victims in this tragedy.

And it is not just this tragedy that needs to be served justice. Yet, the stalemate between Democrats and Republicans in Congress is preventing progress. Democrats don’t understand why Republicans won’t pass gun control laws, while Republicans see Democrats as demonizing the weapon rather than the shooter.

We simply lack the ability to stop it. The National Rifle Association’s undue sway over Congress, as well as the politicians who support it, play a large role in this. Their delusion that “a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun” is just another disgusting tactic to put more guns in the hands of Americans with as few restrictions possible.

The organization, which consists of 5 million people, possesses an unrivaled influence over gun control. According to the LA Times, The NRA gave $27 million in direct and indirect support to 50 senators who voted against a bill to require universal background checks for firearms purchases. Their selfishness is costing the lives of innocent people.

Again we will hear the fallacy that the death toll would have been smaller if the people at the country music festival were armed. But even if they had been, how could they have fought back against a man shooting an automatic weapon from 32 floors above? They couldn’t have.

The gun lobby will continue to argue that military-style weapons are necessary for hunting and for sport shooting. Yet they are also used for their real purpose: to kill large numbers of people in short periods of time. In the past 477 days there have been 521 mass shootings in the United States, according to the New York Times. These are weapons of war – not leisure.

It was stunning to read the flash news updates when the death toll climbed to 50, surpassing the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. It was even more stunning to learn that this man legally owned 23 assault rifles, with more than a dozen modified to be fully automatic.

Both the shooting in Orlando and the Vegas massacres were made possible by
he perpetrator’s Second Amendment right to walk into a store and purchase a semiautomatic assault rifle with little to no questions asked. The Orlando shooter was an Islamic sympathizer, the Vegas shooter was a 64 year old white American citizen. The leader of this country and his followers truly believe that banning certain ethnicities will stop violence, while a man from our own backyard just buried 58 bodies.

We all should be like Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn) as he told Congress to, “get off its ass and do something.” While our right to bear arms is a foundation of our country, the true foundation of American exceptionalism should be our capacity for constitutional and moral renewal. Not our impulses for self-destruction.

No motivation can make this barbaric act of violence comprehensible, nor can it assuage the grief and pain
we all feel. Our hearts go out to the families that were victims in this tragedy. As you all prayed for your lives, we pray that this does not become another statistic.


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The Harbinger Online Staff

The Harbinger is the exclusive student-run news program for Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, KS. Staffed by approximately 60 dedicated super-students and overseen by adviser C. Dow Tate, the print and online publications have won numerous national awards. The Harbinger is published in print every two weeks and its website edition is updated daily. The website edition includes blogs, live video, photo galleries and stories not published in the ... Read Full »

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