Posts Tagged ‘Second Amendment’

I’m both shocked and, at the same time, not surprised that I’m on this topic again. I was really hoping to talk about something writing related this morning, but events this weekend have caused me to shift gears. So prepare, because I’m about to do one of my world-famous gun violence posts!

Now if you’re unaware, on Friday evening at 10:30pm in the city of Orlando, Florida, singer, YouTube star, and “The Voice” contestant Christina Grimmie was shot by a deranged fan who apparently drove from St. Petersburg with the express purpose of killing her. Grimmie’s brother (without a gun of his own, no less) tackled the shooter to the ground, probably preventing more people from being killed. Grimmie later succumbed to her injuries and died, leading to a powerful outpouring of grief on the Internet. Even I, who only had a casual acquaintance with Grimmie’s work, felt her passing deeply.

Just a little over twenty-four hours later, a man armed with an assault rifle entered the Pulse, a popular Orlando gay bar and dance club, and started shooting, leading to a hostage situation that ended with the shooter’s death. The latest numbers show fifty confirmed deaths and even more injuries, making this the worse shooting in American history, worse than Newtown and Aurora. All this happened despite the fact that an armed police officer (a good guy with a gun) was on scene at the club.

All this, barely a day and a half apart, in the same city, in a state with very lax gun laws and a high amount of gun violence. Both shootings involving guns.

I wrote last year after a spate of shootings that America’s gun problem is like a chronic illness, a constant condition that plagues and grieves us, and needs treatment to be fixed, even when the treatment isn’t always available or the subject doesn’t want to admit there’s a problem, let alone that they need treatment. And that comparison still holds water nearly an entire year later. America is plagued by shootings. We’re the only developed nation with this much gun violence, to the point where it’s almost considered normal. Guns are causing more deaths than the United States should have.

These aren’t toys. They’re not meant for anything creative.

Now, I know some people will say, “But Rami, how can an inanimate object cause murder? People cause murder.” Well, people cause murder, that’s true. But guns, like missiles and military drones, are designed to facilitate killing. They’re made with that express purpose. The first firearms were used for military purposes, and so were the cannons and flintlock rifles that came later, with hunting being a secondary use for the latter. They were invented for the strategic purpose of taking enemy life, not for baking cookies or improving home decor. This is in direct contrast to knives, which unless made for military purposes like the Marine Corps Ka-Bar combat knife, has other primary uses like cutting and preparing food.

There’s no argument around this. Guns are made for killing, whether it’s animal or human life. 

In the next couple of weeks, we’re going to be seeing renewed calls for restrictions on gun sales and ownership, as well as push back from the NRA and other Second Amendment advocates trying to frame this as a mental health issue (in the case of Christina Grimmie’s killer) or as an issue with ISIS or Muslims (early reports indicate that the shooter at the Pulse had ISIS leanings). And while I do believe that mental illness and terrorist ideologies may have played a part in these tragedies, Christina Grimmie might still be alive if the deranged fan had gone at her with a knife instead of a gun, and I doubt fifty people would be dead if the killer had a knife. Maybe a couple people, but after the first few attempts at stabbing, someone’s bound to tackle this guy.

And it’s hard to argue mental illness or terrorism when a man uses a gun to intimidate his wife, which happens all too often, unfortunately.

The problem is, both these tragedies, and so many more, have been made possible by the use of guns.

Luckily, there is treatment for this problem. In Australia, Canada, England, Japan, and many other developed nations, gun violence is at waaaaaay lower levels than in America. The difference is that they have restrictions on who can have guns and what kinds of guns. Not a blanket ban on all guns, but some restrictions are in place. And I’m sure, that if America were to institute similar restrictions, we would see the same results. In fact, states with more gun control measures have lower instances of gun violence than states that do not. If we were to implement the same thing on a nationwide level, imagine how much the loss of life could be lowered.

And for those who say that gun control measures don’t work because bad guys will still get guns, so it’s best to give the good guys guns instead, I have this to say: if there are still people who run red lights, do we throw out traffic laws and just let people drive as they wish without consequences? If a boat or a house has a leak and water comes in, do we destroy the boat or the house and say they were useless and never would have worked? No, we prosecute the people who run the red lights for violating traffic laws. We patch up the holes so that water can’t get in. And if people are still getting restricted weapons and committing acts of violence with them, then doesn’t that prove even more that they’re criminals, and that they were willing to go to unsavory means to commit acts of violence? I think it does.

Not to mention, how do you know who’s a good guy and who’s a bad guy? It’s not as if the good guys are marked in green and the bad in red when they pull out their weapons. And in a crowded room where everyone has a gun? Really hard to tell!

It’s time to put a stop to displays like this.

Treatment is available. We just have to be brave enough to take it.

Otherwise, we’ll continue to have incidents like what we experienced this weekend, and families will wake up without loved ones because tragedies that could’ve been prevented weren’t. We need to admit that there’s a problem, we need to take measures to stop the problem, and we need to do this now. Not tomorrow. Not next month. Not next year, or in another years.

Now. Let’s push for expanded background checks, closing gun show loopholes, and banning assault weapons or other military-grade weaponry on the open market. Let’s also put aside funding for research into gun violence for the CDC, and expand the requirements needed to purchase and use a gun (a yearly gun safety course, for example, sounds sensible enough). If we can do that, I’m sure we can prevent more innocent losses of life.

Or we can go on as we have been doing. And we can’t allow that, under any circumstances.

Note: Immediately after finishing this, I saw a report that a man with weapons in his car had been arrested in LA near the Pride Festival there. Thank God law enforcement caught him, or who knows how many people might’ve been killed.

This afternoon I found on my news feed that another college, this time Seattle Pacific University, was hit by a gunman. Details at this point are still few, but what is known at this time is that one person has died, three more are in the hospital, and that the gunman was disarmed by students while reloading his gun.

While I’m glad that nobody was hurt, I have one question: is it enough yet? Because it’s only been a couple of weeks since Elliot Rodger went on a shooting spree in his black BMW, killing 7 people around UC Santa Barbara because, as he said in a very creepy YouTube video, “girls aren’t interested in me”. And these are just the most recent: Sandy Hook, Aurora, Virginia Tech, the Sikh Temple, and even more that I may have missed. The point is, we have a serious gun problem here in the United States, as well as a serious opposition to seeing any sort of change to try and stem the bloodshed. In fact, only a couple of states have enacted any sort of gun legislation, such as background check and limitations on ammunition or automatic rifle bans. Other states have actually made it easier to get and carry guns around, and the federal government has bowed to the pressure of gun lobbies so that no legislation has gone through on that part.

Look, I know that as a nation the United States is slow to do things that are vital to protecting the health of its current and future citizens. Our healthcare is still tied for 37th place worldwide, our welfare system loses funding every year as well as our education system, and the road to environmental reforms designed to stop climate change is like climbing a mountain sometimes. But honestly, we’ve lost so many lives to gun violence in so many years, and every time, everything from the media to lack of God to making gun pictures in school is blamed, but guns are not. Legislation dies, the news moves elsewhere. And every time the event repeats, more people shout “Enough is enough! We’re tired of this!”

Indeed we are. And we’re tired of the rhetoric against gun control. “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” If that’s so, do toasters not toast toast, but toast toasts toast? “Gun laws don’t work, because people will still break the law to get guns.” And people will still buy meth even against drug laws or run red lights against traffic laws. Maybe we should get rid of law altogether. “We have a Second Amendment right to guns.” That amendment was written when the worst you had was a hunting rifle, that rifle could get your family food for the week, and the state might call upon you at any time for a militia. Not to mention that a handgun does just as much damage to an intruder in your home as an automatic rifle, which is actually worse for hunting than just a regular rifle. And you know what else is a right to us as Americans? Freedom of speech, but the Secret Service will still arrest people who say they will kill the President or anyone else in high office.

Look, I’m not saying that we should lock away every gun in the United States and only let the military, police, or the government handle them. But I think some common sense laws would do a world of good. Several other developed nations have gun control laws, and remarkably, their levels of homicides and suicides with guns are much lower than that of the United States. Surely we can do the same and be even better at it, if the USA really is the greatest nation in the world?

Or are we going to let some more shootings happen? Where will they happen next, I wonder? Perhaps one will happen in my backyard, near where I live and go to school. Or one will happen on Capitol Hill and scare the bejesus out of every senator around. Or maybe at another elementary school! The point is, the way things are it’s very easy for these shootings to happen at all these locations and more! Airports, grocery stores, office buildings, subway systems, libraries, apartment buildings–stop me anytime!

None of us want this to happen again. But unless we enact some long-term change, gun violence will continue to be a constant problem in our nation, and will claim the lives of so many more. And that’s something we just can’t keep allowing if we’re to continue on as a country, especially one that the rest of the world looks to a lot as an example of what it means to be a superpower.

Oh, and I just want to mention one more thing: two girls, much more influenced in their crime by violent media than any other killer I’ve seen so far, nearly murdered their friend after stabbing her 19 times in the name of Slender Man. I garauntee you, if she was shot with a gun even once, she probably wouldn’t have survived. And the man who attacked a bunch of children in China with a knife around the same time as the Sandy Hook massacre? All of those kids survived too. Just something to chew on.