Alas, here we are again, America, mourning 12 individuals who lost their lives in yet another tragic and preventable mass shooting.
Thirty-four-year-old Aaron Alexis infiltrated Washington, D.C.’s, Navy Yard and opened fire on hardworking men and women early Monday morning. News agencies reported by mid-afternoon that at least a dozen people had been slaughtered, while many others remained hospitalized in serious condition.
Unfortunately, this event was only the latest in series of massacres that have claimed the lives of so many. Small communities like Columbine, Aurora and Newtown, once unknown to the world, are now notorious for firearm-related bloodshed.
Sadly enough, gun violence has also impacted us here in Scranton. We witnessed the tragic loss of a Lackawanna College student, “Duke” Rahsan Crowder, who lost his life after being shot multiple times on the corner of Madison and Vine last spring. Even more recently, the FBI arrested Nicholas Savino, a resident of nearby Clarks Summit, for threatening to shoot President Obama. Officials claim that he was an owner of an AR-15, a type of assault rifle that was also used in the Navy Yard shooting Monday.
These events should come as no surprise since America is a world leader when it comes to gun-related homicides. Nearly 11,000 people are killed with a firearm every year in the U.S. This is opposed to the 610 killed in Canada, 428 killed in France, 146 killed in the UK and 11 killed in Japan every year. With statistics like these, there is no denying that America has a deeply rooted firearm predicament.
Believe it or not, I am not the only one who sees a problem with America’s gun culture. When 22-year-old Australian student Christopher Lane was shot dead by three teenagers last month in Oklahoma, former Australian prime minister Tim Fischer told NBC News that, “the U.S. has chosen the pathway of illogical policy with regard to guns.” Fisher even pressed further, stating that American gun culture was “corrupting the world.”
Fisher’s remarks are true, right? America has transformed into a society where purchasing an assault rifle, a weapon specifically designed to kill, is normal, and above all, a constitutional right. While the Constitution does guarantee citizens the right to bear arms, many use the Second Amendment as a poor justification for owning an assault rifle. Correct me if I am wrong, but did our forefathers not create the Bill of Rights to protect American citizens, not jeopardize their safety?
It is also important to remember that our constitutional rights are regulated every day. The First Amendment guarantees the freedom of speech and the freedom to assemble, yet it still is not lawful to yell “bomb” on an airplane or riot in the streets. With this in mind, why does the mere mention of gun control cause such hysteria? How would universal background checks and a ban on assault rifles infringe on someone’s constitutional right?
Another feeble excuse “gun-ho” National Rifle Association (NRA) members typically make includes the ever-so-popular phrase, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Although true, does this mean we should make mass murder easier for the people looking to commit it? What if ricin, anthrax and sarin gas were as easy to access as assault rifles are? How safe would you feel at night?
I often wonder what it will take to change America’s perception on guns. Twenty-six men, women and children died at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December, but federal lawmakers have yet to pass any statutes that would regulate firearms. What more will it take? How many more innocent lives need to be lost?
Americans need to wake up. We can no longer hide behind the Second Amendment, and members of Congress must stand up and try to prevent violence. Recent studies indicate that nearly 90 percent of American citizens support universal background checks, so I find it troubling that our elected officials have yet to implement such laws. If we do not do something, and if we continue to stand by and watch our brothers and sisters die aimlessly, each of us has blood on our hands.
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