As another week comes to a close, we as Americans cannot, and must not, forget the calculated massacre of last week that left nine individuals dead in their house of worship.
Unlike other recent shootings, the debates surrounding this horrendous event are not filled with victim blaming or questions concerning the intention of the shooter. The facts are clear: the shooting was racially motivated and completed by a man who grew up in a society where it is all too easy to purchase a weapon that can end a life with the pull of a trigger.
Shootings occur everyday in the United States with mass shootings taking place in schools, movie theaters, churches, and other places where individuals gather, in astonishing rates. The act of ending the lives of fellow human beings is sickening in itself, but what I think is almost equally disturbing is that we have become accustomed to these occurrences. When I turn on the news, I am no longer surprised when I hear that a large scale shooting occurred. Instead of exclaiming sentiments of shock, the first words that escape my lips are—how many were killed?
How many innocent children must be shot down in their classroom while they are trying to learn? How many lives of individuals must be ended by a bullet in their place of worship while trying to strength their relationship with their creator? How many families have to be forced to continue to live without their love ones—their mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands etc.—left only with memories that will fade with time?
Studying abroad during such a crucial time in the United States has provided me a new viewpoint from the outside on the shootings that plague our society. Since I am one of a few Americans in my Peruvian town, I represent a face, a voice, and a perspective of the United States to many locals. This ultimately warrants a lot of responsibility to represent the country I love in the correct way, but when countless individuals repeatedly ask me why does the United States have so many shootings? Why can’t the shootings be stopped? I am taken aback. I struggle to compile enough words to create an intellectual, politically correct response, but I am left simply uttering—I don’t know.
I do not know why the United States has so many shootings. I do not know why we, as Americans, allow politics to get in between us when trying to implement social change. I do not know why we continuously elect and sub-sequentially allow our politicians to use politically correct speeches to escape responsibility instead of taking a strong stance against sometimes unpopular political reform.
I do know that we as a Nation must change.
We must stop hiding behind our history and selfish notions about our rights that we use the Constitution to support. Yes, I know you love your gun. Yes, I know the Constitution gives you the “right to bear arms.” I am a Political Science major, do not treat me as if I cannot comprehend the most significant document in our Nation’s history—I have the ability to read.
What I am about to say is going to be unpopular, especially to all my Republican, gun loving, conservative Texas friends, but I hate guns. I hate them and I wish no one had guns. To me, the perfect world would be a place where I did not feel the need to own a deadly, steel weapon to protect me. Unfortunately, we do not live in this world and I do not see the possibility of outlawing guns to be in the near future of the United States.
Instead, we must look to reform gun laws. When many conservatives hear these words spoken, their initial response usually involves a fiery comment in which they invoke support from the Second Amendment. They believe that gun reform equals taking away all guns, but the key word is reform.
I am sorry—actually no I am NOT sorry—but you do not need that high-powered gun that soldiers use during war; you do need a license to carry a gun, a license that should require multiple classes on gun safety and ownership; you do need a background check before purchasing a gun. Gun reform does not equate taking away all guns. Gun reform means changing the current policy in the United States in the hope of a creating a more safe country for all citizens, even if some individuals believe their individual constitutional right is being questioned.
We as Americans must take a deep, long look at the society that we have constructed—a society where streets are named after men who fought to maintain the practice of slavery; a society where the flag of the Confederacy flags higher than the United States flag after tragedy. It is time for reflection Americans.