Thoughts and prayers are not enough

Emily Reid

“Among the deadliest mass shootings in history” is a headline I have seen 13 times in my 20 years of life.

San Bernardino, Newton, Las Vegas and now Parkland. It seems America as a county is asking “when will it end?” But it won’t end. It will happen again. And we will all send our thoughts and our prayers to the affected area, praying for the families and the friends of those who died. But praying most of all, that we aren’t next – that the next mass shooting won’t happen to our community, our school, our church.

(source: gunpolicy.org)

What is it about guns that make them so difficult for defenders to give up? Does having a weapon in your pocket make you feel better about yourself? Does shooting practice every couple of weeks help your confidence? Or maybe you really are standing up for the Second Amendment.

So, let’s talk about that for a second, the amendment that is dripping in the blood of thousands of innocent Americans lives: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

So much of the constitution is rooted in the Founding Fathers’ fear of a tyrannical government. In that time, it was typical for nations to use a standing army against their own people. So, our constitution writers decided that our new nation would instead rely on citizen militias, which would constitute of ordinary men who would provide their own weapons.

The Founding Fathers were intelligent and wise men, however, they were incapable of seeing the future. They had no clue that guns could, and would, become weapons of mass destruction. Weapons, which, like the AR-15, were designed for military troops to kill enemy fighters and are now in the hands of 19-year-old boys on a rampage of revenge. There are guns which are capable of shooting 100 rounds a minute, capable of inflicting unspeakable tragedy.

The astronomical rate of mass shootings doesn’t happen anywhere else. The United States only has about 5 percent of the world’s population, but it has 31 percent of mass shootings. If this was a mental health problem, as gun rights activists explain it, then the United States would have more mental health issues than other developed countries. But when you compare the data from World Health Organization for the spending rate for mental health care, the number of healthcare professionals, and the rate of severe mental disorders, the U.S. is in line with other countries.

While mental health issues may be a contributing factor, it is not the root cause of all this violence. So, the discrepancy comes down to guns.  It’s commonly known the U.S. leads in number of guns in the world. It’s hard to exactly pin down how many, but The Washington Post reported in 2015 that there were 357 million – even more staggering when you realize that equates to 40 million more guns than the population of the U.S. at the time.

(source: The New York Times)

(source: Vox.com)

Another common argument against gun control, is that criminals don’t care about laws, and they would acquire a gun anyway. After the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, federal legislation made it more difficult to obtain bomb-making supplies, and a study by Indiana State University found that bombings have become less frequent since . In 1996, Australia faced a mass shooting which killed 35 people. It shocked the nation so much, they implemented strict gun control. They haven’t had a mass shooting since.

So, what do we do? Because it’s evident now more than ever that thoughts and prayers aren’t enough. Thoughts and prayers don’t save lives.

In the 1960’s, when cars became widely accessible, and subsequently more people started dying from them, our nation’s leaders addressed the problem by deeming it a public safety issue. They limited access to them and implemented regulations such as the driver’s license, age limits, test’s on road safety and rulings on car companies to ensure manufacturing safety. Why can’t we treat guns like cars?

This doesn’t have to be a national issue. Our nation’s founders had one thing right when they wrote the Second Amendment. They left the issue for the state’s to decide.

The state of Missouri, has some of the worst gun regulations in the country.

In Missouri, if you are above the age of 18 and not a convicted felon, you can walk into any gun store, pawn shop, or flea market and purchase a gun. No permit, no waiting period, no training classes.

It seems like gun regulations are only getting weaker, with a new permitless concealed carry law that went into effect at the beginning of 2017. In 2007, Missouri repealed its permit-to-purchase law, which ensured all consumers of guns went through a background check. In the five years following, the murder rate spiked by 16 percent.

Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough. They never have been. But let’s stop waiting for the  national government to do something and start changing laws in our town.

egr8q8@mail.umkc.edu

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