Thousand Oaks makes 12,507 Victims of Gun Violence in 2018
Staff Voice of Reason
Another day, another shooting. The latest Thousand Oaks shooting makes 307 mass shootings in 311 days. A mass shooting is defined as the violent killing of 3 or more people by any type of gun. It is evident that the United States has an epidemic of mass murders, and that they lack the governmental leadership to end it. President Trump has shown no sympathy for those affected by gun violence under his presidency. After the Parkland shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Trump visited only the families who are registered Republicans. He did not even call the rest to offer condolences. He did visit a survivor in the hospital, and inappropriately said “He’s a sick puppy” in reference to shooter Nicholas Cruz, and took smiling photos with the victim.
He proceeded to go golfing and then to a nightclub at his estate in Mar-a-Lago. With good reason, people were outraged. High schoolers under the age of 18 began rallying and formed the global movement March for Our Lives. They registered a record number of millennial voters, and can be credited for some of the 188% increase in young voter turnout at the Midterm elections. Incremental change is essential, but it is not coming fast enough to save innocent lives, and victims have had enough. After the Tree of Life shooting in a Jewish temple in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, democratic mayor Bill Peduto asked that Trump not visit until after all of the funerals had passed. A presidential visit is an honor. It holds the significance that as one hurts, the nation hurts with them; and it insinuates that the President will do what he can with his power, to help. Since President Trump’s visits do not provide that comfort or consolation, he is no longer being welcomed, and is even being rejected, by those he attempts to see after these tragedies.
This resistance stems from Trump’s empty promises and lack of commitment to real gun sense laws. 70% of all Americans favor common sense gun laws, which do not ban guns or revoke liberties, but rather regulate the distribution and sale of these weapons. A majority of people agree that criminal and mental health background checks should be thorough and mandatory, in order to prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands.
The President and his party, however, have a different idea. An alarming 68% of Republicans want to arm teachers, and expect them to protect their students when an attack occurs. They hope to end gun violence with more guns, falling right into the trap of the National Rifle Association. The NRA doesn’t sell weapons, they sell fear. They encourage people to buy guns, in order to protect themselves from others who own guns…effectively selling two guns. They keep their power by lobbying, and buying politician’s views. Even President Trump laughed during a televised meeting regarding gun control, ridiculing his fellow party member, Senator Pat Toomey about the age restrictions of guns. When Toomey said he had not addressed the issue, Trump taunted him, “Why? ‘Cause you’re scared of the NRA!”. He followed this by saying that he is not afraid of the organization, probably because he does not need their money.
Trump may not need the NRA’s money, but he does need their members’ votes. In February, he promised the surviving children of Stoneman Douglas that he would ban bump stocks, a law that has yet to be passed, 9 months later. Lack of political action is the reason the United States is the only country that has a drastic amount of domestic terrorist attacks. Political action is needed for both gun sense laws, and healthcare laws. The Thousand Oaks shooter who attacked a bar in California on November 8th, was a 28-year-old Marine veteran who had a history of mental health issues, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. His .45 caliber Glock and extended magazine were legally purchased, demonstrating that in the United States, it is easier to access weapons than it is to access healthcare.
As a resident of Parkland, I can attest to the heartache that comes from the gridlock of the system. The deaths in my community were not only preventable, but predictable. During the 6 minutes of the shooting, students were on Instagram and Facebook Live, commenting about how they already knew it was Cruz. Shooters do not keep their plans, weapons, or intentions a secret. In fact, they shove them right in our faces. Just yesterday, before murdering 12 people, the Thousand Oaks shooter posted “ Yeah.. I’m insane, but the only thing you people do after these shootings is ‘hopes and prayers’.. or ‘keep you in my thoughts’… every time… and wonder why these keep happening…”. This man knew that he would be only one of many shooters, because of the way spineless politician’s and advisors “pray” things will change instead of using their power to create change. As a nation, we are left desensitized to death. By now people realize that nothing is going to change, so they compartmentalize the gory reality of every murders and the fear that they will be a part of one. Not thinking about violence is the way Americans are coping with it, and even I certainly wasn’t as involved with this issue until my hometown crumbled behind the barrel of an AR-15. Florida has seen many attacks this year, from Parkland, to Miami, to Tallahassee, to Jacksonville. Yet they still did not vote in sensible candidates during midterm elections, and during local elections, only 25% of Parkland residents voted.
Whether it is for my 17, Sandy Hook’s 27, Las Vegas’ 58, Pulse’s 49, Pittsburgh’s 11, California’s 12, and so on, I urge you to vote. . In the words of environmental activist Marjory Stoneman Douglas herself, “Be a nuisance when it counts. Do your part to inform and stimulate the public to join your action. Be depressed, discouraged, & disappointed at failure & the disheartening effects of ignorance, greed, corruption & bad politics — but never give up”.