Sunday, November 5, Devin Patrick Kelley open fired inside a South Texas church. The 26-year-old used an assault rifle at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs; leaving at least 26 dead and 20 injured. Texas Governor Greg Abbott described this as the worst mass shooting in his state’s history.
The suspect was apprehended and shot by a civilian, Stephen Willeford, who chose to pursue him as Kelly fled the scene of the crime. When the police arrived, they confirmed that the suspect had killed himself with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Before the police arrived, however, it was unclear whether Kelley had died due to a self-inflicted wound or one from his pursuer. In the initial hours after the massacre, Twitter users took to social media to defend the use of guns, claiming that if it weren’t for the pursuer’s right to own a gun, the gunman would still be at large. While many were rationalizing that if Kelly had not had access to a semi-automatic weapon in the first place, this massacre could have been avoided.
Seeing these tweets truly made me sick. 4% of Sutherland Springs population had been completely wiped out due to one man’s assault rifle, yet people still had the audacity to say that ownership of guns was the solution to this problem. Guns were the cause of the problem.
Do not use other people’s tragedies to justify your own agendas
We use old rules to justify our acts. The United States claims to be the most developed country, but in a lot of ways, it is the most backwards. The United States, with less than 5 percent of the world’s population, has about 35–50 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns, ranking as number one in firearms per capita. Additionally, the United States also has the highest homicide-by-firearm rate among the world’s most developed nations. As the Washington Post puts it, the founding fathers did not have semi-automatic weapons in mind when creating the second amendment, but rather muskets and rifles.[caption id="attachment_109322" align="alignnone" width="312"] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/06/13/the-men-who-wrote-the-2nd-amendment-would-never-recognize-an-ar-15/?utm_term=.041a2aff8639[/caption]
On Monday, President Donald Trump stated that this attack was not a “gun control problem,” but rather a “mental health problem.” However, his suggested health care policy does not cover mental health. So how, Mr. Trump, do you propose that we fix this increasing issue? The next day, November 7, Trump said that stricter gun control measures would have led to “hundreds” of additional casualties, claiming that if Willeford had not intervened with his own weapon, hundreds more could have been injured (even though Kelly had ALREADY fled the scene by the time Willeford came to intervene). He then followed up saying that it was “too soon” after the tragedy to discuss means to prevent mass shootings.
So there we are: we have a country divided, with a president avoiding all the right questions, providing vague, inconsistent answers, and providing no real solutions. The truth is, that Trump does not know what the solution is; he is simply too incompetent to be in the role of President of the United States. According to the Gun Violence Archives, a total of 307 mass shootings have occurred as of November 5, 2017 in the United States alone, but our president still does not want to discuss gun control.
Trump’s denial and refusal could very well lead to thousands of more deaths.
Fortunately, it appears that millennials are finally fighting back. Proudly, my home state of Virginia elected the first transgender legislator in U.S. history, and all off-year elections won as democratic. Surprisingly, all over my social media accounts (Twitter, Snapchat stories, Instagram stories), I saw multiple friends proudly showing off their “I VOTED” stickers. We are truly making a difference.
Donald Trump and his followers may be burning America down to the ground, but that does not mean we should let them. 2018 is the year for us to vote in a Democratic congress and perhaps change American legislation for good.