By Matilde Bechet
Chardon High School Shooting—3 deaths
Charleston Church Shooting—9 deaths
2012 Aurora Shooting—12 deaths
Columbine High School Massacre—13 deaths
Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting—17 deaths
Sandy Hook Elementary School—26 deaths
Virginia Tech Shooting—32 deaths
Orlando Nightclub Shooting—49 deaths
2017 Las Vegas Shooting—59 deaths
This list could keep going…
How many deaths will it take before Congress puts an end to the loss of innocent lives? The answer is unclear because the issue of gun violence just keeps repeating itself, mass-shooting after mass-shooting.
We live in a time when it is has become normal to hold lockdown drills throughout the school year and have kids as young as five years old hide in classroom corners. Still, the country has yet to take action when it comes to enacting laws that will protect its citizens.
In Congress, representatives and senators respond to shootings with “thoughts and prayers” but fail to implement bans on bump stocks or semi-automatic weapons. Is it due to the NRA’s power within the legislative branch or the inefficiency associated with partisan politics? The excuses are endless.
The Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791. At the time, automatic weapons didn’t exist. In the past, people needed guns to hunt for food and protect their families from more immediate danger. Children weren’t being shot in schools. People need to realize that it’s the 21st century and the “right to bear arms” doesn’t hold the same weight as “freedom of speech,” not when it results in human deaths that are preventable.
Congress needs to act. Some may argue that shootings don’t just occur in the U.S. but all around the world. However, unlike America, countries such as Switzerland, China, and Germany have taken action by enacting stricter laws against guns. According to Quartz Media, “China, which already has very strict gun laws but is experiencing a rise in gun ownership, has taken further steps, including outlawing hunting rifles, very common in rural areas.”
Furthermore, “In Germany, automated and semi-automated firearms were banned in 2008 (with the exception of hunting and sport-shooting, which require permits), in response to the 2002 Erfurt massacre, when a 19-year-old killed 17 at a school.”
The responsibility of America’s government is to serve the people with integrity. However, this isn’t the case. Senators like John McCain and Richard Burr received $7.74 million and $6.99 million dollars in contributions from the NRA, while representatives like French Hill and Ken Buck accepted $1.09 million and $800,544. This data is collected from Fortune, which reported, “the calculated totals…combine direct campaign contributions as well as outside money spent on behalf of candidates from the NRA’s PACs and directly from the NRA’s 501(c)(4) social welfare unit.”
Keep in mind that these are just a few examples of legislators who choose not to enact laws that protect and enhance citizens’ lives. A longer list of names is present at the end of this article. For these representatives, money seems to hold more value than human lives. Perhaps that is why Congress’s last attempt at gun control came in 1994 with Bill Clinton’s Violent Control Crime and Law Enforcement Act, which lasted for only ten years after it was declined an extension in 2004. It’s 2018, and no other laws have been passed with regard to gun control.
We also need to stop blaming the issue of gun violence on the mentally disturbed as President Trump did on Twitter during the aftermath of the Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting. Doesn’t President Trump recall signing the H.J. Res 40 bill? The bill annulled Obama’s regulation that would have “added people receiving Social Security checks for mental illnesses and people deemed unfit to handle their own [finances] to the national background check database.” If implemented, the Obama administration predicted 75,000 names would be placed on the database, making it difficult for citizens with mental health issues to purchase guns.
Stricter guns laws must be passed; it shouldn't have been possible for Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old perpetrator at Stoneman Douglas High School, to have obtained a .223-caliber and a AR-15-style rifle to murder 17 people (students and faculty) in six minutes.
The Stoneman Douglas High School massacre is a wake-up call for Congress because students and activists won’t stop until gun-control laws are enacted. Gun violence will just continue like a broken record. A few weeks after Stoneman Douglas, there was another shooting at Great Mills High School in Maryland. Congress needs to come together for the nation and actually abide by the words in the Declaration of Independence that advocate for the protection of citizens: “Life, liberty, and the pursuit for happiness.”
Top 5 Senators That Benefited the Most From NRA Funding
John McCain (R, AZ) – $7.74 million
Richard Burr (R, NC) – $6.99 million
Roy Blunt (R, MO) – $4.55 million
Thom Tillis (R, NC) – $4.42 million
Cory Gardner (R, CO) – $3.88 million
Top 5 Representatives That Benefited the Most From NRA Funding
French Hill (R, AR) – $1.09 million
Ken Buck (R, CO) – $800,544
David Young (R, IA) – $707,662
Mike Simpson, (R, ID) – $385,731
Greg Gianforte (R, MT) – $344,630