Shots Overload

November 2, 2015

A gunman walked into a [fill in the blank] and over the span of [time frame] minutes killed at least [number goes here] people and wounded [number goes here] more before killing himself/dying in a shootout with the police.

Fill in the blanks, and this sentence has become all too familiar in the lives of the American people. The nation has reached a point where news about gun violence is part of daily routine.

The latest tragedy occurred at an Oregon community college on October 1st, after 26-year-old gunmen, Chris Harper Mercer, murdered as many as nine people and wounded seven more. Although his motives remain unclear, authorities confirm that Mercer was carrying five handguns and a rifle when he entered campus and began shooting those who said they were Christian.

Gun violence is an increasingly pertinent issue in the US, often brushed aside by claims to external sources such as mental illness, and protected by the idealized second amendment. However, it’s nonsensical to overstate the absurdness of the high US firearm homicide rates.

The Oregon shooting marked the 45th school shooting since the start of 2015, according to research done by Everytown for Gun Safety. CNN finds that there are more mass shootings in the United States than any other country in the world, and the death by firearm rate is at least a dozen times higher than any other industrialized country. The Washington Post notes that not a full week has gone by in President Obama’s second term that has not included at least one mass shooting.

People have become so accustomed to the catastrophic levels of violence that the issue becomes glossed over. Every time news about a gun-related atrocity reels the nation, the public unwaveringly responds with empathy, but consistently fails to demand a solution. Elected officials sit motionless in state legislatures with no signs of any changes.

The Oregon shooting also flared up a common debate about gun control, where both sides are ultimately locked in a stalemate. While conservative notions of complete freedom to guns has been proven harmful, liberal talk about completely banning firearms is also bound to fail. The majority of the population agrees that there needs to be some compromise.

A more realistic call for action is necessary to confront the harsh reality of this violence. Legislation has been proposed with universal background checks, tighter regulation of dealers, and limits on the amount of firearms in certain areas, that has the potential to shift the familiar norm of gun violence.

It’s not an act of fate that has harmed thousands of Americans over the past few years. It’s a matter of laws, court decisions, and legislation, and it’s in the power of the American public to change it.

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