When Do We Say "Enough Is Enough" and Do Something About Gun Violence?

Not all that long ago, I was in one of my professor's offices. A school shooting had recently occurred. It wasn't on my campus, but a school shooting anywhere impacts schools everywhere. The topic of the shooting came up and I could not believe the professor matter of factly said, "I'm just waiting for it to happen here."

The words were not said in an angry or excited way. They were just said in a way that let me know I shouldn't be surprised if it happens. Truthfully, I don't know that I would feel surprised. Every time I hear about a mass shooting, I don't feel shocked anymore; I feel sad and angry because of the possibility that the incident could have been prevented.

I don't want there to be a school shooting anywhere in the world. Yet, they keep happening. So far, the U.S. has had eighteen school shootings in 2018. It's only the middle of February.

Last year, there were 346 mass shootings in the U.S. according to Gun Violence Archive, which is less than the 383 mass shootings recorded in 2016. However, that essentially means that every day, in the U.S., it is more likely than not that there will be a mass shooting somewhere and there's nothing being done about it.

Now, Mr. Hunter-Man, I don't like the idea of you using your hunting rifle to kill a deer or some other animal, but I'm not trying to take away your privilege to legally own a hunting rifle to kill Bambi's second cousin twice removed. I'm not trying to punish you. I'm saying that there are a lot of weapons on the market today that have the sole purpose of taking human lives. Those are the weapons we do not need.

I was reading an article after the shooting in Las Vegas last year. Caleb Keeter is a guitarist who performed the night of the shooting. He later said in a tweet, "I've been a proponent of the 2nd amendment my entire life. Until the events of last night. I cannot express how wrong I was." He went on to say that members of his crew had legal guns and licenses on their tour bus, but that night, they were defenseless. If they picked up one of their weapons, the police could have thought they were the shooter. The weapons the shooter had were more powerful than anything they could have tried to use. The guns used in the Vegas shooting were legally bought. Later, a former special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, David Chipman, was quoted in USA Today saying that our current laws on rifles don't "make sense." They don't. "Enough is enough," wrote Keeter. That shooting was four months ago. It feels like somewhere in the distant past, probably because the rest of the U.S. hasn't said "enough is enough" and there have been more mass shootings since.

No one needs a military grade weapon except, maybe, a member of the military when they are on active duty. Yet, here we are. It's Feb. 15 and a 19-year-old stands accused of killing 17 people at his school with an AR-15, the same type of gun used by soldiers during the Vietnam War. It also is a weapon that can be purchased fairly easily in Florida, with no waiting period and a cost of around $1,000.

No one needs to own a weapon like this. Unfortunately, people can.

I know the saying, "Guns don't kill people. People kill people." While that is true, people are killing people with guns every single day in this country and no one is immune. John Lennon, Tupac, Selena, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John F. and Robert Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Hamilton and his son Philip, all died in the U.S. when a person shot them. Statistically, guns (including hand guns, rifles, etc.) are used more than any other weapon to commit murder in the U.S., followed by knives at a very, very distant second.

There's no denying that gun violence in the U.S. is a national problem and it keeps getting worse.

No parent should have to bury their child. No student or teacher should fear for their life when they walk into a school. No one should just be waiting to be the next victim. We all deserve better. Kids deserve the chance to live and learn in a safe, gun-free environment. No law will protect everyone from every danger, but tighter gun regulations, like getting military grade weapons off the market, is a good place to start.

#gunviolence #schoolshootings

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