It wasn’t but a few months ago that I chose to write a blog post about the issue of gun violence in the United States.
Schools, movie theaters, churches, concerts, and clubs are just a few of the many public places that have become common settings for senseless acts of gun violence.
Mass shootings in the US are now so “normal” that we can even rank them based on impact. Last night, at a gay nightclub in Florida, 50 innocent civilians were victims of a senseless act of violence. Newspapers around the country released headline after headline reading “Worst Shooting in US History.” The night before, an innocent 22-year-old singer, Christina Grimmie, was shot dead during an autograph signing after her concert. In 2012, and again last year, innocent movie-watchers were attacked in movie theaters in Colorado and Louisiana. Last year, individuals who thought they were in as safe a place as they could be, their church, were victims of a gun executed hate crime. In 2012, elementary school children became victims of gun-executed violence.
The pattern that has formed is not solely a product of terrorism and religion, or of poor mental health. They were all executed by the pulling of a trigger- a trigger that is accessible in this country by walking into Wal-Mart, or browsing through online catalogues.
According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, from 2007 through 2011, the NCVS estimates that there were 29,618,300 victims of attempted or completed violent crime. During this same five-year period, only 235,700 of the self-protective behaviors involved a firearm.
Essentially, the pro-gun argument that “guns aren’t the problem, people are” and that “guns are necessary for self-defense”, is so far from reality.
Take a look at this chart taken from the Gun Violence Archive (a not for profit corporation formed in 2013 to provide free online public access to accurate information about gun-related violence in the United States):
When will it end?
The day after the shooting at the Florida nightclub, social media became flooded with “Pray for Orlando” and “our thoughts are with the victims” etc.- a pattern that has formed after numerous accounts of shootings in our country. I myself am a part of this pattern. After the movie theater shooting in Louisiana, where I am from, I posted #prayforlafayette to my twitter. There is absolutely nothing wrong with showing your support for victims, and for fellow citizens who are affected by such tragedy. But, how far do our condolences really reach?
Clearly, nothing is changing. It was bad in 2012 and it is arguably even worse now, in 2016. Every prayer and thought and emotion we send to the victims and their families, does not change the problem that is present. We need to take action. We need to reach out to those with the responsibility of the law and our protection and demand change.
If you are one of many people in this country who are angry, frustrated, upset or concerned with the endless amount of senseless gun violence, I challenge you to take responsibility. Reach out to your state representatives. Join campaigns. We are at a point where sympathizing with victims is not enough. It does not prevent the tragedies from occurring. The normalization of such violence has no place in our society.
Find your representatives here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/