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The Las Vegas massacre should be a wake up call

Americans on both sides of the aisle need to come together on gun reform

Written By Lauren Ortego, Co-Copy Desk Chief

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Twelve. It’s the number of mass shootings my parents had lived through by the time they were my age. One hundred and thirty. That’s my number. That’s how many mass shootings have happened since I was born in 1996, and those are just the headline-worthy ones.

According to the United States’ Congressional Research Service, a mass shooting is broadly defined as an event in which four or more people, not including the shooter, are killed or injured by gunfire in a public area.

I am tired, Point Park.

Columbine, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Waco, Charleston, San Bernardino, Orlando and now, Las Vegas.

We all recognize those names. We all know what they mean. And after each and every single one we thought, “Oh, this is the one. This will result in stricter laws, for sure.” And every time, we were wrong.

In the span of a year and a half, we have lived through two of the largest mass shootings in modern U.S. history. I’m not kidding when I say that this is the only advanced country in the world where this continues to happen.

Do you know what happened when a gunman opened fire and killed 35 people in Australia?

The Prime Minister donned a bulletproof vest and proposed stricter gun laws in the country, including a ban of many semi-automatic weapons and enforcing a mandatory gun buy back. The result? They haven’t had a mass shooting since 1996, and the current support to keep those laws in place is overwhelming.

Look, I know we’ll never be Australia. I’m not delusional. The worship of guns in this country is both sickening and counter-productive.

The very thought that allowing citizens to carry assault rifles is perfectly fine and normal is insane and mind-boggling. This man had 23 guns in his hotel room. Twenty-three guns that he legally purchased and used to kill and injure over 500 people.

“Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”

Sure. Technically, you’re right. People do kill people. That’s a pretty solid sentiment. Certainly it’s not dogs or canaries that are going around committing mass murder, so yeah. People kill people. And what do you think makes it easier? If you answered “easy access to guns, loose restrictions, irregular regulations and loopholes,” you might just be right. Guns may not kill people, but they sure make it easier.

Let’s, if you will, address the other arguments lined up in the arsenal of those who find there’s no problem with regular people owning military grade weapons.

“People will find a way to kill each other, even without guns.”

Again, you’re technically right. We’ve been committing murder since humans have existed. Killing each other is basically a favorite human pastime, like baseball or racism is to America.

But it is a lot harder to commit mass murder with a knife than it is an automatic firearm, though I’m sure it’s not impossible. Automatic and semi-automatic rifles are literally made to kill large amounts of people. That’s why they’re called “assault” rifles and not “I’m using this to defend myself because this is America and George Washington wanted me to have this AK-47” rifles.

Which brings me to a third argument, “It’s my Constitutional right, just like the First Amendment.”

Yes. In the Constitution it does, in fact, say you have a right to “bear arms.” But let’s take a closer look at the historical context of that right held so dearly by the folks at the National Rifle Association.

The Constitution was written while the newly-founded America was coming out of it’s post-Revolutionary War high. We won our freedom, and no one could take it away from us. We feared a strong central government because it too closely mimicked the very monarchy we had escaped from. The idea was that you would have a way to defend yourself in case the government ever tried to attack the people they vowed to represent.

Rifles were also not what they are today. They were less likely to hit the target, and it would be very hard to kill many people at once seeing as you had to load it up, a process which could take a minute or so. Shooting one was basically taking a blind shot into air. 

This is divisive. It’s divisive and it’s political and each side does have noticeably different feelings and it’s an argument we have had at least twice a year since I was in high school.

But it shouldn’t be.

Because we’re talking about the lives and safety of our fellow Americans, of our children, of our students, of our brothers and sisters. My cousin was in the line of fire in Las Vegas last week. He was at the concert, he saw the bodies, he helped people as best he could. I’m proud that he did, but he should not have to.

We deserve to feel safe in public spaces. We deserve to feel like we can go to concerts, or to school or to the movies. We deserve not be killed in what media outlets and politicians alike will call a “national tragedy” before moving on to the next problem a week later after no legislative action is taken.

Your prayers and well-wishes are welcomed and accepted and are great PR, but why don’t we stop praying for this to stop and start actually doing something about it.

For God’s sake, how many times does Jimmy Kimmel need to cry on night time television for this country to actually care about something?

I know it’s easy to give up. Nothing was done after Sandy Hook, which literally involved a mass killing of children, so why would anything be done, now? But I beg of you, please, get angry. Please call your representatives. Please do something – anything. Because if not, this is just going to keep happening again and again and again and again.

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