Last week, President Obama delivered his 15th public statement after a mass shooting since taking office. A visibly upset and frustrated Obama delivered his remarks from the White House briefing room in response to the shooting that took place at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College, leaving nine dead, not including the shooter, and several injured.
“Our thoughts and prayers are not enough; it does not capture the headache and grief and anger that we should feel, and it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America next week or a couple months from now,” Obama said, speaking hours after the shooting. “This is a political choice we make to allow this to happen every few months in America.”
In the past few days, this sentiment has been echoed all across America by men and women who are frustrated about the frequent occurrence of these events. This event and the many before it hold a damning implication for academic institutions across the nation, including our university. Incidents like the shooting at Umpqua Community College raise awareness and fear among students and staff.
It is a painful reminder each time our nation suffers from one of these despicable shootings that there’s an urgent need for stricter federal gun control laws. Americans understand this; they are frustrated, and they demand reforms. However, the clear machination by members of Congress when it comes to the topic of gun control, the formidable force that is the National Rifle Association, affiliated pro-gun groups and their lobbying power and right-wing congressional representatives’ adamant refusal to entertain legislations that they consistently deem to be in violation of the Second Amendment all preserve the status quo. As long as these elements are in force, no mass shooting is capable of altering the politics of gun reform unless the people, collectively, buckle down and aggressively take a stand to support legislation that would enact change.
Just a few days ago, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, in response to renewed calls for legislative action following last week’s shooting at the Oregon college, was quoted as saying “stuff happens.” While many took offense at his comment, and rightly so, the important takeaway here is that shootings like this should not be allowed to become commonplace. Occurrences of this nature, with such pervasiveness, do not happen in other advanced countries, such as Australia or the United Kingdom. In fact, Australia, in response to a single mass shooting in 1996, enacted stricter gun control laws and hasn’t seen a similar carnage since.
Unlike other advanced countries, the United States does not have a sufficient “common sense” safety law, despite the regularity of mass shootings.
Yet, contrary to perceptions, national polling shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans understands we should be changing this law. Still, there remains an ideological disconnect between representatives in Washington and their constituents. An apparent ideological divide in the sense that there’s clear bipartisan support on gun control for tougher background checks, but a partisan divide on legislation.
Blatant acts of political partisanship despite public cries for gun regulation are not what makes for good democratic relations between the people and legislators; they have no place in our democracy.
We must understand that “all Americans have the right to bear arms” is a gross misunderstanding of the Second Amendment’s intended purpose and has not been valid for hundreds of years. Implementing a gun control law would not prevent you from owning a gun legally, nor would it take away a (standard) gun you previously owned. It would not prevent you from using your gun legally for sport or for the protection of yourself and your family.
The prevalence of thought that gun regulation would somehow prevent you from owning a gun is a shameful misconception that is both false and rooted in some degree in people’s gullibility. Until the majority of Americans who support gun regulations can press their policymakers to pass a law that reflects their want for gun control, America runs the risk of permitting a repeat tragedy.