ART BY: ESTELLE ZHOU
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this piece are not a reflection of the views of Paw Prints Weekly as a whole. They are the sole views of the author. Paw Prints Weekly celebrates a diverse audience and staff, and it supports the declaration of the duties and rights of a Journalist per the U.S. Constitution.
Today, we live in a world unlike any other. Danger, chaos and murders plague modern society in a way no science fiction story or even horror movie could depict. Plastered on the headlines of every newspaper is yet another mass shooting—several dead, many injured. People offer prayers and hold vigils. People take to attacking and criticizing government officials.
Yet, the issue is practically forgotten in a few short hours, with no underlying considerations and no afterthoughts.
But have we truly taken into account the fact that we could be a victim of the next unpredictable set of murders?
A gunman fatally shot and killed two citizens in a grocery store in Kentucky on Oct. 24.
Just three days later, on Oct 27, a gunman opened fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue, leaving 11 dead and 6 injured, leaving the country reeling in shock after yet another mass shooting.
Yet another shooting occurred at a Florida yoga studio, leaving two women dead and five others injured on Nov. 3.
As if this domino effect of seemingly aimless destruction was not already harmful enough, the fourth mass shooting in just two weeks occurred at a packed Southern California bar, The Borderline, in Thousand Oaks, killing 12 people on Nov. 9.
The blatant truth is starting to dawn on previously unsuspecting American citizens: we do not truly acknowledge these terrible tragedies until one comes hits our very own backyards, making our neighbors victim to such crimes.
Just two short years ago, being caught in a deadly mass shooting was considered unlikely on media. The rare stories about such events were widely disregarded because they all seemed like a story—a fantasy. Now, with the past year-and-a-half harboring over 600 mass shootings already, these tragedies are such a common occurrence that it is clearly time for a more concrete reform.
In fact, such incidents have struck the nation so intensely and so quickly that by the time the recent Thousand Oaks shooting occurred, a handful of individuals were living through not one, but two shootings, all in the span of just over one year.
As many raced for safety from the shooter in Thousand Oaks, a very common thought plagued their minds: not again. Just last year, several of the victims fled a similar scene—piercing screams, bodies dropping, and utter chaos—in Las Vegas, at the Route 91 festival— where 58 people lost their lives, with over 700 injured. The Borderline was a very popular hangout for country music fans; it had become a place where dozens of Route 91 survivors came together to heal and “to celebrate life,” as many such survivors described their experiences at the bar.
And now, so many of the people who had once come together to “celebrate life” are reliving a moment in life that now characterizes them in yet another horrifying group: survivors of at least two mass shootings in one lifetime.
Perhaps, it is time for a more thorough consideration on our government’s part of the effects that these traumatic events truly inflict on the innocent citizens of our country.
Is Congress simply going to turn a blind eye to this horrendous phenomenon? As time passes, will the number of shootings in an individual’s lifetime increase to become three, four, or even five shootings in an individual’s lifetime? Or will Congress take matters seriously on this immense issue by passing stricter gun laws?
With the number of shootings increasing as time progresses, it is evident that no amount of prayers or condolences will offer a true change. Only if the government immediately acts on bills regarding gun rights will the climate of gun violence in our country change.
Luckily, the country’s cry for change was clearly heard as its representatives scrambled for new positions during this year’s midterm elections.
Numerous candidates running for election to congress swapped their views on gun rights, drastically affecting both the Republican and Democrat parties.
With the various damaging effects that shootings thus far have brought upon our country, it is definitely no surprise that the number of gun rights supporters decreased dramatically, which served to make or break several candidates’ campaigns during the recent midterm election season.
True to their campaigns, candidates have already pushed for a number of new measures regarding the safety of our country, in terms of gun control. Take, for instance, the Washington state representatives and voters’ joint efforts that worked to approve a ballot measure that significantly strengthened the state’s gun laws last Tuesday.
This new passage is certainly a notable victory for gun control advocates, which also poses dilemmas within the National Rifle Association (NRA), an organization known for its long-standing support for gun rights.
The dwindling influence of the NRA is perhaps most apparent among newly elected officials to the House of Representatives. For instance, a number of previously avid gun rights supporters such as Democrat Tim Ryan and Republican Brian Mast, who had A ratings in the NRA, willingly traded this passing grade for a flat F after all the tragedies the country has gone through. Unsurprisingly enough, this change for the betterment of the country has reflected several states’ voting turnouts. These bold politicians “failing” to leave innocent Americans to die attracted numerous votes from swing states such as Virginia, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Colorado.
The House of Representatives wins are particularly significant. As said by The Trace reporters Alex Yablon and Daniel Nass, “Democrats earning F ratings from the NRA for their views on gun laws prevailed not only in increasingly bluish swing states such as Virginia, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Colorado, but also in conservative strongholds like South Carolina and Kansas.”
Gun rights advocates are quick to repeat the same old phrases: “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” and “Excuse me, the Second Amendment!!” However, we all know that guns don’t act on their own accord. The cold reality is that those supporting gun rights do not want to acknowledge the fact that a gunman without a gun would commit far fewer heinous crimes without this destructive weapon.
And in today’s society it is more imperative than ever to reconsider the progression that our country has gone through. Unless the government wishes a continuation of bloody citizen deaths, there must be change, and it must happen now. As the newly elected officials of Congress take their places, one thing is clear: gun law reform is no longer a looming task; it is now an immediate terror that affects everyone across the nation.