On Nov 5 at 11:30 a.m., Texas experienced the worst mass shooting in its history, and one of the worst shootings in the history of the United States of America. At least 26 people are dead at the time of writing this article, with 20 more injured.
You don’t have to look far to hear the outpouring of support from all kinds, with many claiming that the act was senseless, and, indeed, it was. This was the kind of violence, committed at the First Baptist Church in the small Texas community, which is eternally difficult to understand.
And yet, just as one can see support coming in from all over, one can just as easily see the argumentative discussions, the calls for action and the adversarial politics which come into play whenever an event such as this occurs, which, unfortunately, is quite often now.
People try to make sense of a heartless act, and even more so, try to call upon those in power to legislate measures which could prevent atrocities like this from happening again. The call for gun control in the United States gets louder with every mass shooting, but just as loud, perhaps, are the voices who oppose such measures.
The common argument is that those calling for gun control are “politicizing” the tragedy, far too soon after it occurred. They are content to mourn without action, and have others do the same, while gun-related tragedies in the United States happen more and more often.
People who call for gun control in the wake of a tragedy have their hearts in the right place. Calling for measures to prevent future tragedies does not invalidate the ones which have already occurred.
According to a database compiled and maintained by Mother Jones, 82 percent of firearms used in mass shootings in the United States since 1982 were obtained legally. Further, in the case of the shooting in Texas, the murderer was able to obtain a gun legally, as the Air Force did not transmit his criminal record to the FBI for a background check.
This is indicative of a deeply flawed system, one in which those who have criminal records, and who are often mentally unstable, are able to lawfully purchase guns in the United States with little problem. In light of this information, it is not difficult to see why so many people call for reform in the wake of such shootings, which, evidently, could quite possibly be avoided if the system worked a little better.
For those arguing against this call to action, saying that it’s doing a disservice to the memory of those killed and injured by politicizing the event, the point has been missed completely.
While I am wary to trust the government with gun control, as this has historically been used to target non-white citizens to keep them from owning guns to defend themselves, as well as transgender people, something clearly needs to be done. Being silent in mourning is not enough. For those of us not directly affected by these tragedies, it is imperative to speak out.
Before any other significant legislation is added, the current system need to be fixed. There should never be another case in which the Air Force does not provide criminal records for background checks. All of the information must be available, and it must be ensured that it is transmitted before the purchase of a gun is made.
Those with mental illnesses which cause them to be violent or unpredictable in their behavior should not be allowed to purchase firearms, and psychological evaluations should be mandatory if a purchase of a firearm is to be made.
I understand the fear of government tyranny, and the want to defend oneself against it, but mass shootings are killing far more people domestically than the government is. Guns should not be taken away from law abiding citizens, but there needs to be reform.
If we can’t get our mass shooter problem under control in reasonable way now, the measures taken to do so in the future might be far more drastic.