As 2017 comes to an end and 2018 dauntingly dawns upon us as a nation, I can’t help but look and reflect upon the one thing that throughout every consecutive year for what seems like forever has been haunting us: gun violence. 2017, more than ever, has been a year defined by guns — if not the various attacks and deaths, then the heated discussions surrounding them and the ineffectiveness of our government to make any permanent decisions regarding firearms. This is especially concerning considering 2 of the 5 deadliest mass shootings in modern US history have occurred in 2017, an ever-so-present indicator of the fact we need to reform the gun policies in our country because this issue has a body count that will only keep on increasing.
The first of the two deadliest mass shootings, which occurred this year, was none other than the Las Vegas Shooting (at The Harvest Music Festival), which ultimately took 58 lives, injured over 500 people, and left a whole country shook and in pain as they mourned the lives of those who wanted to enjoy music. The perpetrator was Stephen Paddock: a “lone wolf” as described by the media; very little to this day is known about him. Paddock took his own life after the shooting, and ever since, authorities have been trying to piece together anything they can find to find some sort of narrative for Paddock. It seems odd that the man responsible for one of the deadliest mass shootings on US soil has so very little known about him, especially considering the fact that every time a person of color, especially a Muslim, is a perpetrator, everyone is so quick to jump to conclusions and build stories. If anything, the Las Vegas shooting not only reaffirmed the fact that our country has terrible gun control, but it also shed light on the fact that there is a definite media bias regarding criminals and terrorists; one that is white and non-Muslim will never be subjected to the same scrutiny as someone who is. A lot about the Las Vegas shooting still remains a mystery; that is the unfortunate truth. The even more unfortunate truth is that this all could have been prevented if we had sufficient gun control. It’s not even about politics anymore; it’s about the well being of our people, our fellow humans who should feel safe dancing and listening to music.
The second deadliest mass shooting in modern history which occurred this year was the Sutherland Springs Church Shooting in Texas, which was actually the biggest mass shooting in all of Texas history. The perpetrator was Devin Patrick Kelly, who after murdering 26 people, shot himself in the head, taking his own life. He was described as having a violent past, with his ex-wife going as far as to call him a “demon”. He had a record of violence that was documented, and this builds the case for gun control and vetting when purchasing guns. We cannot let people who have demonstrated violence and have been a threat to other people obtain firearms because massacres and mass shootings are the byproducts of having unstable people carry weapons.
These two shootings shook our nation and our people. We mourned together, and maybe that’s what 2017 needed to be: a period of mourning and coming to terms with the situation and circumstances at hand. But in 2018 we must take action. 2017 was unfortunately defined by gun violence, let’s hope 2018 will be defined by reform and gun control.