By Tiger Sun
I personally watched my hometown of Blacksburg become dazed with shock after the Virginia Tech April 16th shooting, and have seen countless other communities on the news torn apart by a madman with a killing machine. Sandy Hook. Aurora. San Bernardino. Las Vegas. Sutherland Springs. And most recently, Parkland.
The reasons that the government won’t push forward on gun regulations are mired in pure hypocrisy and greed. I don’t understand how people could possibly not be against mass shootings, but here we are, in a time where the Florida legislature refuses to even discuss gun control in the midst of one of the worst school shootings in history.
Despite guns not being mentioned in the Bible a single time, NRA executive Wayne LaPierre claimed the second amendment “is not bestowed by man, but granted by God to all Americans as our American birthright.” I’m really glad Jesus himself was present at the signing of the Constitution to stick in the second amendment. Really, though: Can people who pride themselves on “traditional values” really believe this? Even if LaPierre was tangentially referencing a right to self defense, does someone really need a military grade rifle capable of killing hundreds of people just casually sitting in their home?
I think the issue at hand is the NRA and its staunch fanbase. Money flows into the NRA through gun manufacturers which then trickles into the hands of pro-gun politicians so it’s difficult to effect meaningful change. Having no change is beneficial for the NRA. Hence they pass blatantly dangerous legislation like the Dickey Amendment, which is a ban on gun control research by the Center for Disease Control.
If the CDC could research gun control, then the government would have such an overwhelming reason to restrict firearms. There’s already so much other research out there conclusively against guns. However, the lobby passed this legislation so the government cannot independently verify that guns are such a risk, and guns can still be purchased and sold easily within the country. That way, they can earn money from gun manufacturers as well as further their agenda of “good guys with guns.” Even this argument makes no sense. If the NRA truly wanted to get more guns into the hands of “good guys,” wouldn’t it make more sense to actually find these good guys first? Perhaps through a background check? Why in the world would the NRA actively work to make background checks weaker? Something doesn’t add up.
Of course, there’s also the argument that “any bad guy can get a gun if they wanted to.” Again, this is bad reasoning. There’s lots of research on this, but common sense-wise, how could anyone possibly think this argument makes sense? To stop gun violence, we give bad guys guns too and try to minimize the amount of innocent people they kill before a good guy with a gun (hopefully) stops them? It’s easy for a bad guy to get one now, because that’s the way current policy works: shouldn’t we fix that?
Finally, there’s the argument that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” where mental illness is blamed as the root of the issue. This idea is problematic in many ways, especially since having a mental illness doesn’t automatically make one inclined to harm others, but even if we humor this idea, why has the government, backed by the NRA, rolled back health care for mentally ill people while at the same time making it easier for mentally ill people to obtain guns? It just doesn’t make sense.
The NRA thrives on emotional appeal. When anyone breaks down their highly flawed logic and arguments, they always link it back to some far-fetched idea of the socialist-bent liberal government trying to take over everyone’s lives. There’s such an unbelievable amount of evidence showing the dangers of guns, yet the NRA always tries to fixate on made-up hypotheticals.
But what’s been happening in the country the last ten years isn’t hypothetical: this is real life.
Mass shootings are political issues. We need to stop pretending they aren’t. Politics is the only way to stop these mass shootings—we have to stop forgetting about these tragedies a few weeks after they occur. Policy is what needs to change to greatly reduce the amount of lives lost through these mass shootings.
What the Parkland students are doing right now is absolutely incredible. They’ve brought and kept the spotlight on a serious problem that’s been too often swept under the rug by the very people we vote into office to “protect us.” We need to harness the current wave of activism, and make real change: this is our chance. Corporate sponsors are beginning to drop the NRA. NRA-backed senators are being lambasted by high schoolers on national television. The only way to beat the NRA and it’s resistance to important change is to beat them at their own game: politics. We cannot let this happen again. #NeverAgain #WeRemember
Contact Tiger Sun at tgsun ‘at’ stanford.edu