“Now is not the time to talk about gun control.” That is what I keep hearing from President Donald Trump and most of the Republican Party. Instead we must only “give thoughts and prayers” to the victims of mass shootings. I heard this after Sandy Hook, after Pulse, and now after Las Vegas.
Here’s my question: why? When at least 58 people were killed and 500 people were wounded, why can’t we learn from the experience? When the gunman owned 47 firearms, why can’t we talk about gun regulation? When America has one mass shooting per a day, why can’t we look into policies to fix it?
Saying we shouldn’t talk about gun control is the most disrespectful thing you can do in this situation. It tells the American people that the government refuses to acknowledge this problem. It says that we will allow this to happen again. It says that lives don’t matter.
“The thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if they are paired with continued legislative indifference,” Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn) said in a statement.
Americans have made it clear that they want gun control. According to Politifact, 93 percent of Americans, including the majority of NRA members, want universal background checks. Pew Research found that over 60 percent of Americans want to ban high-capacity magazines and assault-style weapons.
Yet, Republican lawmakers won’t listen to their constituents. Instead, many conservative-leaning states have deregulated the gun industry. More people are allowed to carry guns in public than ever before.
“Those in Wyoming will be allowed to carry firearms in K-12 schools. Georgia and Arkansas residents may carry firearms on college and university campuses,” wrote Reid Wilson from The Hill. Wilson notes that these laws were created after the Pulse nightclub shooting, showing “the power gun rights advocates wield in state legislatures.”
The power of gun lobbyists is a major factor in keeping Congress from enacting gun control. The National Rifle Association (NRA) spends millions of dollars on Republican lawmakers to ensure that gun manufacturers continue to benefit from law regulations.
It is no wonder that America has 88 guns per 100 people. Some conservatives argue that guns are needed as self-defense against the mass shooters. But Caleb Keeter, the guitarist who performed during the Las Vegas massacre, countered that argument.
— Caleb Keeter (@Calebkeeter) October 2, 2017
Sadly, the conservative argument is effective. Gun stocks usually rise in the wake of the mass shootings since people buy more firearms in fear of their safety. This is counterproductive because various studies have proven that having more guns in circulation causes more deaths.
But we cannot forget the detrimental effect that gun violence has on those who survive. A Johns Hopkins University study found that yearly gun violence kills or injures more than 100,000 people at a price of $2.8 billion in hospital bills. The cost increases to $44.5 billion when including wages lost due to hospitalization.
“On average, those treated in emergency departments incurred $5,254 in charges. If they stayed in hospital overnight, charges were far higher – $95,887 on average,” reported The Guardian.
The number of lives ruined by gun violence goes beyond the death toll. Yet, American lawmakers at the national and state levels have enabled these types of tragedies though their inaction.
Just like any other constitutional right, the Second Amendment is not absolute. The second amendment allows you to protect yourself, not to own an automatic weapon. If politicians do not act after the worst mass shooting in history, Americans will continue to die for the profits of the gun industry.
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