I Don't Understand The Love For Guns

                               Via NBC News

It’s time to talk about gun control. As many people know, the worst mass shooting in modern United States history took place at a country music concert Sunday night. As family and friends listened to Jason Aldean perform, shots began to ring out from the Mandalay Bay Hotel, sending thousands of innocent people into a state of terror and panic.

The shooting lasted for 15 minutes. Over 500 people were wounded. 58 people were killed.

I woke up to a dozen notifications Monday morning from various news sources, each with breaking news about how a man had posted in a hotel room and began shooting into the crowd from a thousand yards away. I didn’t read the articles- I couldn’t. But as I scrolled down and read the words, “the worst mass shooting in United States history,” I didn’t cry. I didn’t yell, or curse or throw my phone across the room, wanting it as far away from me as possible. I just gently set my phone down and laid back down in bed. I was numb.

We just passed the first anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting this past June. If you don’t remember, that shooting in Orlando was, at the time, the worst mass shooting in US history. Before that, there was Sandy Hook. Before that, there was Aurora. Before that, Virginia Tech. Before that…

I could name all of the mass shootings going back almost 20 years, going back to Columbine, but I’m not going to. You see, I’m tired. Tired of the same cycle that we refuse to step out of. Someone will walk into a public place: a movie theater full of people about to enjoy the new Batman movie, an elementary school as children, as young as 5, start a normal day at school, a university or a high school, etc. They will pull out a gun that was far too easy to buy and begin shooting. We will hear about it on the news. The death toll will continuously climb for the next few days.

                               Via CNN

The news outlets will begin to inquire about the state of the shooter. Who were they? Were they mentally ill? Obviously they were because, of course, only a mentally ill person would do something like this. Was it a terrorist act? Yes, it is showing all of the signs of a terrorist- Wait. We’re getting word that the shooter was a white man. So was it a terrorist attack? No, we’re getting word that the shooter was a lone wolf, not a terrorist.

Then the thoughts and prayers will begin to flood in. Praying for the victims of today’s senseless act. Thoughts and prayers for the victims and their families. My thoughts are with the victims of today’s tragedy.

 

Related: When Violence Seems Distant

 

Next comes the eventual debate about gun control and whether it is possible and constitutional to enact gun control. Here is where the right wing fanatics will say that while the shooting was a terrible tragedy, every man, woman, and child has a constitutional right to bare arms. "It’s our Second Amendment right. These crazy liberals just want to take away our guns. What if it was a knife attack? Would you be calling for knife control?" 

This will happen for a few days. Politicians will make speeches stating facts that we already know, taking stances that we already are aware they have. The debates will build and build, until it seems as if this time, maybe… just maybe… something actually changes. And then, nothing. The cycle repeats a few months later.

I turned 22 this past May. In my short life, over 900 people have been killed in mass shootings, which are defined as shootings where four or more people are killed. This figure is only for mass shootings, however. Since 1995, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in gun related violence all around the country. According to the Gun Violence Archive, in 2016 15,079 people were killed by guns and 30,615 people were wounded. This was in 2016 alone.

With all of this knowledge about the amount of innocent people who are killed by guns each year, I would have thought by now that change would have been enacted. We have a number of other countries that are great examples of what can happen with stricter gun laws. Australia had one mass shooting back in 1996 where 34 people were killed and since then, there have been no mass shootings.

Australia saw the problem and lawmakers acted quick. They saw the lives that were lost and the countless family and friends who were destroyed because of this senseless act. Australia’s laws changed because lawmakers and the public agreed people’s lives were more important than guns. This is where we fall short every single time. To this day I do not understand the need for a gun and why a piece of metal matters more than someone’s life. I’ve discussed gun control with family members who are vehemently against it and who are completely for it. What I have learned is that people who are against gun control don’t love guns for the protection or the right they believe they have to own one.

They love guns because of the power.

There is an episode of the classic television drama The West Wing that I always remember when there is a shooting. If you haven’t seen TWW, I advise you stop reading here, because this paragraph will contain spoilers. During the second season, after a shooting that left dozens wounded, including President Bartlet and Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman, the latter of whom almost died, a young Republican lawyer, Ainsley Hayes, is hired after going head to head against Sam Seaborn on a morning talk show. She is treated with some hostility, being a Republican in a Democratic White House. When Ainsley and Sam run into each other for the first time after the talk show, they begin to discuss policies, including gun control.

                               Via NBC

This is when Ainsley, who is against gun control, says something to Sam, who is a major supporter of gun control, that has stuck with me for over two years.

“You don’t hate the guns; you hate the people [who like guns]” she said.

Now, I want to explain something: I don’t hate people who like guns. I am not a hateful person and would not hate someone who likes guns. But I do not understand people who love guns. I never have, and I never will. Guns scare me. I’ve seen what they can do, the pain that they can cause, whether it’s physical, emotional or mental. They are deadly, dangerous, and I wish every day that they had never been invented. I do not understand how someone can hold a gun, with the knowledge of what they can do, and love it. I do not understand how someone can love the power a gun gives them. I do not understand why power is more important than someone’s life.

I may not hate people who love guns, but I will never understand you. And every time I see someone post about how America does not need gun control, all I can think is how that person, and all of the other people like them, is part of the problem.

                         Via NBC News

58 people died Sunday night. Their lives will always be more important than a piece of metal machinery. But in that moment and all of the days following, their lives mattered less. Our reluctance to act after a mass shooting, our continued refusal to acknowledge the problem with guns in our country and our complete lack of care for innocent people make victims’ lives matter less than a piece of metal. We need gun control because lives are more important than guns or a person’s right to own a gun.

No one should ever be afraid to go to a concert, a movie or to school. No one should be afraid that someone is going to take lives away with the pull of a trigger. No one should ever be killed or have their lives destroyed in the name of the Second Amendment. The sheer fact that this is a debate scares me. The fact that people will say how tragic this event is, but in the same breath say that we don’t need gun control, that it’s our right to own a gun, scares me.

We can do better. We need to do better.