by August Kissel and Julia Skeval
We started brainstorming this story idea on November 30, the Monday after a gunman shot and killed three people, and wounded nine at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado.
Between then and Dec. 4, when we first began writing, another nationally-covered mass shooting took place in San Bernardino, California on Dec. 2. At least 16 were killed and 17 injured.
This is why we are writing this. That is what's wrong with America.
The United States has reached a point where we cannot go one week without one or more people opening fire into crowds and buildings of innocent people who's families and friends will forever be marred by how they lost their loved one.
It's sick, scary, and we need more change than what Obama seems to call for and promise in his press conferences after each mass shooting.
We need to stop asking why we change these laws because it’s obvious - innocent people need to stop dying in mass quantities every other day. Instead we need to be adressing how we change - what laws need to be inacted and what kinds of people shouldn’t have access to assault style weapons. This piece isn’t advocating the abolishment of the second amendment, but rather it’s to acknowledge the fact that what we have now isn’t working.
As Vox.com puts it, Americans own a ridiculous number of guns. (See the graphic below). Americans make up only 4.43% of the world’s population yet own 42% of all firearms, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. One in three Americans own a gun, and this high concentration of firearm owners has been proven to be strongly associated with the increasing acceptance of gun culture in everyday life.
Gun culture is “encompassing the behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs about firearms and their usage by civilians,” as defined by Wikipedia. Humans are influenced by their environment, and when that environment is occupied by guns, they go along with it because they’ve never learned any different. (Armedwithreason.com) People then go on to justify their firearm possessions as needing protection when they go out in public or as a weapon to use in their own self defense. However, the irony lies in the fact that in states where more people own guns, aforementioned for their own safety, there are more shootings and gun deaths than in states with less guns owned.
This indicates that the notion of “if everyone has a gun to protect themselves, less people will die from gun related deaths,” is completely false. After the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in December 2012, thousands of people took to social media all with the same idea: if the teachers in the school had been carrying concealed weapons or had them in the classroom, the shooter wouldn’t have taken as many victims.
Just in case you don’t see what’s wrong with this idea, we’ll elaborate on it. People were actually advocating to put guns in elementary school classrooms. Imagine kindergarteners, while the teacher has stepped out of the room for a moment, finding the weapon and what tragedies would follow.
The solution is not putting more guns into the hands of civilians. It’s taking guns away from people who shouldn’t have them. There have been nearly one thousand mass shootings in the past three years, according to The Guardian. Hundreds of those involved assault style weapons. Many on the opposite side of this discussion will retort with, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” So let’s remove the deadly tool.
Take a look at a few of President Barak Obama’s post-mass shooting press conferences. Notice the similarities:
“And I hope that over the next several days, next several weeks, and next several months, we all reflect on how we can do something about some of the senseless violence that ends up marring this country.” July 20, 2012, after a shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.
“We can't tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.” December 14, 2012, after a shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
"Obviously we will investigate thoroughly what has happened, as we have so many of these shootings that has happened sadly." September 16, 2013, after a shooting at a Washington Navy yard.
“We do know that, once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.” July 17, 2015, after a shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.
“Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it. We’ve become numb to this.” October 1, 2015, after a shooting at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon.
"At the end of the day, Congress, states, local governments are going to have to act in order to make sure that we're preventing people who are deranged or have violent tendencies from getting weapons that can magnify the damage that they do." November 28, 2015, after a shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado.
Each conference is laced with the same general message. Each time one of these incidents happens, in the following days there seems to be an increase in momentum to change gun control laws or protocol. But as always, after a week or so, the nation as a whole returns to “normalcy” until the next shooting that seems is always bound to happen eventually.
Some people “could go into a store right now in the United States and buy a firearm and there’s nothing we can do to stop them. That’s a law that needs to be changed.” December 3, 2015, after a shooting at a health care center in San Bernadino, California.
Hopefully it’s evident to you by now that as a country we should be tired of our inability to learn and really change after each mass shooting. We need to stop offering up temporary solutions or ones that logically could never solve this problem. The one in California should serve as a tipping point, creating the momentum required to put an end to these tragedies as we head into 2016.
We need to come together and finally make a change that is going to work.