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The “Bipartisan” Response to the Florida Shooting

In the wake of the unfortunate shooting at the Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the national debate on gun control has risen to the top of the headlines once again. This is an argument that has sparked intense debates between political parties after the most well known shooting that occurred at Columbine High School in 1999. Move through the years to the unfortunate attack on our own campus where 32 of our fellow Hokies lost their lives. According to an NPR broadcast, a bill was passed through Congress after this event to strengthen the background check database for firearms, though the bill did not do much to change the actual system.

In 2012, 27 small children and teachers were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It was this disturbing act of violence against those who are the most innocent and vulnerable that began the impassioned arguments against current gun regulations and laws. Recently Megyn Kelly gave an intense monologue and said the following: “If twenty dead first graders don’t spur people to action, what will? Yes there was an act signed into law by President Obama just 15 months ago targeting mental health reforms. It pushes for early intervention for kids showing signs of mental illness, but guess what? It hasn’t been funded by Congress.”

So, if seeing the pain and agony of 20 young children being taken away from their families can’t get Congress to change, do we really think that they’ll listen to us? I wanted to know some of the opinions of people my age and the following graphs show the responses I received.

While these responses didn’t surprise me, the written responses spoke volumes. While the liberals both stated that it’s generally too late once the discussion about gun control comes up; the conservative viewpoint was that it shouldn’t be talked about at all. The most surprising answer was in response to the question; is NRA funding blinding some Congress members from voting for laws that would make the US safer? One response, from a conservative stated, “No, the NRA is a nonprofit organization that advocates for gun rights, so it wouldn’t do anything to blind Congress members. If a Congressman/woman feels the need to protect someone’s right to legally own a gun, then that is their belief and they’re not blind.”

Now, I did not say that people’s right to own a gun shouldn’t be protected because I myself am a supporter of the second amendment. What I asked was, if the money being put into the pockets of state Senators and House members by the NRA was causing them to ignore the issues they are being asked to address. To say that the NRA is just a non-profit who advocates for gun rights is misleading, when it’s been shown that the NRA has made itself a major influencer in our government by spending millions of dollars to help finance, and advertise for Senators and Representatives who are a majority in the conservative party. Until the NRA no longer had its hands deep in the pockets of the people who are in the majority in our Congress, their agenda to prevent any type of progressive gun control will be the only one that holds power.

When did politics become more about money and status than the safety, needs, and less about the needs, wants, and desires of the American people they said they would protect and support once in office. Even after getting shot at themselves, these Congress official refused to acknowledge that not only is the ability to buy a gun to lax, but the ability to attain a military assault rifle is disturbingly easy and needs to be changed. The argument that people are trying to strip away the second amendment rights is wrong. This fight is about making it so that people who are mentally ill cannot purchase weapons and kids who are only 18 can’t stockpile weapons legally.

When asked to give their opinion about gun control legislation, the following part of a response caught my attention; “Banning guns would only prevent law-abiding citizens from having them, and allow criminals to obtain firearms somehow illegally, leaving people defenseless…Mentally ill teenagers and adults are almost always the ones who do such dark and tragic crimes. The issue is what THEY do with a weapon. It’s their choice to end lives, not the gun’s choice.” Now, let me throw some statistics in here to show why this widely accepted train of thought is not only inaccurate, but demonizing to a wide section of the population as well.  

According to psychiatryonline.org, “Mass shootings by people with serious mental illness represent less than 1% of all yearly gun-related homicides. In contrast, deaths by suicide using firearms account for the majority of yearly gun-related deaths.” So to say that mentally ill teenagers and adults are the ones who commit the majority of these crimes is not correct. While some mass murderers/shooters are mentally ill, not everyone who commits a mass shooting/murder is mentally ill. This is why a mental health screening should not be the only line of defense being discussed. A more intense background check on anyone registering or buying a weapon should be a requirement, and to so that a measure such as that would prevent law abiding citizens from obtaining weapons is actually the opposite of what is being said. If someone is opposed to a background check to get a weapon, then you shouldn’t be in possession of one because if you follow the law and don’t have a history of mental illness then there should be nothing to find in a background check. Plus, to say that only criminals would be able to get guns illegally and people would be defenseless is spreading a fear mongering tactic that cannot be tolerated.

No one is trying to take away anyone’s guns. If you are capable, law-abiding, and of an appropriate age then you will not have any problem obtaining or keeping a weapon in your possession. If less people are able to obtain weapons due to a more intense screening process, then the number of guns available to be sold illegally or privately will decrease. Yes, there will always be those who commit acts of violence using guns and guns will find their way into the hand of the wrong people, but if Congress would focus more on the facts and common sense than money, then the access people who would have these weapons would be largely reduced.

We have said prayers and condolences too many times. We have asked for reform and safer schools for too long. We have asked for Congress to do their job for too long. We are done talking, we are done asking, and we are done saying we’re sorry. This is our time to step up and fight back. Most of us are old enough to vote, or even run for office, and if we want to force our lawmakers to do what’s right for this country, then coming this next election will show them how serious we are. Until then, our voices must continue to rise and we must continue to make people aware that money is not what’s important in this world; it’s the lives and the safety of our children and our future leaders that matters the most.

So, to the lawmakers in Congress, I only have one thing to say:

 

Images:

Thumbnail

Gifs from Giphy.com

Sources:

NPR

CNN

PsychiatryOnline

Boston Globe

Megyn Kelly

 

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Ashleigh Griffin

Virginia Tech '19

Ashleigh is a graduate from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.  She received a Bachelor's of Science in Food Science and Technology. Her future career will hopefully combine both her knowledge of the food industry and the importance of marketing and brand management. 
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