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HARRINGTON: Gun lobbies are killing the nation

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

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More than 50 people were killed in Las Vegas last Sunday. Hundreds more were wounded from gunfire. In the span of five minutes, one man shot hundreds of people.

Politicians across the country released statements full of hollow platitudes regarding thoughts and prayers and how this horrible violence has to end. These politicians, who are fully capable of passing legislation to restrict gun ownership and distribution, will not pass any significant laws due to the disgusting influence of organizations like the National Rifle Association.

This is the ugly truth of American life: The right to bear arms matters more than basic human rights, and the government stopped caring a long time ago.

The scale of this terror attack will not spur gun control legislation. The twenty-six victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting is proof of that. Twenty of those victims were between the ages of 6 and 7 years old. They were innocent children with their lives ahead of them, viciously and pointlessly murdered.

One month after this attack, bills to ban assault weapons were introduced and subsequently defeated in Congress. The politicians had spoken: Money from gun lobbies meant more than the lives of their constituents.

I can’t go to concerts anymore without immediately looking for the nearest exit. I’ve had to disregard fears of deranged gunmen while sitting in class so I could focus on a lecture. This is supposedly the greatest nation on Earth, but I could be killed randomly and without warning just for being in public.

This is not how things should be in this country, or any country for that matter. The right to bear arms has taken precedent over basic human rights, and our government officials are too weak to do anything about it. In 2016, gun lobbies gave approximately six million dollars in campaign donations to members of Congress. This is why things don’t change after mass shootings.

I’m against gun ownership in general. Hunting, self-defense, I don’t care what excuse you concoct, citizens don’t need firearms, especially not assault rifles or easily modifiable weapons like the AR-15. The argument that fully automatic weapons were banned decades ago is easily shattered by the sheer amount of loopholes present in these laws.

There are so many back-doors and alternative methods for purchasing guns and modifying them. This goes beyond hobbyists, self-defense practitioners, and hunters. It isn’t even a state-by-state legislative issue. The Second Amendment and gun control opponents are killing this nation and subverting the very notion that this is the “land of the free.”

I don’t want to threaten people’s Constitutional rights. I want the Constitution to be amended so that basic human rights are respected and American citizens don’t live in fear. The argument will always be made that making firearms illegal won’t stop people from getting their hands on them. While that might be true, it would also be a lot easier to identify the bad guys if they were the only ones with guns. Besides, our law enforcement agencies on both the state and federal levels are more than well equipped to protect civilian populations.

This form of public disarmament has worked in nations like the United Kingdom. For example, following the Dunblane massacre in 1996, the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed legislation outlawing the ownership of handguns, the type of weapon used during the shooting. The U.K.’s strict laws regarding gun ownership have led to an incredibly low gun homicide rate, as well as a far lower number of mass shootings than in America.

This shows that laws can be changed, and civilian lives can be protected as long as politicians are willing to enact laws in the best interests of their constituencies, and not private interests groups.

Thoughts and prayers will not save this country, and ignoring the controversy surrounding gun control will only lead to more mass shootings. I am sick of living in a country where organizations like the NRA can pump money into the pockets of politicians who are more than capable of passing legislation to protect the population that elected them.

The time to talk about gun control is now. It’s a talk that should have happened years ago. If we as a population are so upset about the brutal and senseless loss of life, then we must stop electing officials who sit idly by and allow it to happen.

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