November 23, 2017

‘Thoughts and prayers’ are not enough

Updated on October 5th, 2017 3:20pm

On Monday morning, America woke up to the news that a Las Vegas country music festival had been gunned down at the hands of a white terrorist. Politicians and often right-wing citizens engaged themselves in videos that rang the sound of gunshots and upon blood stained photos from the tragedy that fell on the night before. They took a deep breath and they typed the only thing that came to mind into Twitter: ‘Thoughts and prayers go out to the victims’ families in Las Vegas. God bless.’ Meanwhile the victims’ families grieve and plead in the face of America’s lack of action in the aftermath of a catastrophe like Las Vegas. However, some took to the real issue at hand: gun control.

The Onion, a notoriously satirical media outlet, published a few satire-rich articles following the event titled “‘No way to prevent this’ says nation where this regularly happens” and “NRA (National Rifle Association) says mass shootings just the unfortunate price of people’s freedom to commit mass shootings.” Although the joking theme can be seen as a little too soon after an event like this, the point rings true. There is a way to prevent this, and it’s gun control. I personally invite those who tweet out ‘thoughts and prayers’ to swallow their words and actually take direct action to a problem that’s infecting the country one mass shooting at a time.

Police say the shooter Stephen Paddock had a cache of 23 guns with him, including some federally restricted fully automatic rifles. American gun laws vary from state to state and nowhere is it easy to obtain guns that are capable of executing mass violence like at Las Vegas. Yet this homicidal maniac was able to not only obtain one of these weapons, but 23 of them. Missouri has its own gun laws that suggest it’s a huge part of the problem regarding easy access to guns.

There’s a new show on Netflix called Ozark that makes subtle stabs at absurd Missouri gun culture. The show is about a family that moves from Chicago moves to southern Missouri and is hit with the “hick” town feel. There’s a scene in which the tween son of the family wants to buy a rifle. He is not old enough, so he pays another kid to buy one for him at a grocery store. The same kid buys some average groceries and, naturally, a rifle. The entire scene is commentary on how Missouri gun laws basically give out guns like candy to Missourians.

In 2016, the state of Missouri passed a law allowing people age 19 or older to conceal and carry a gun without a permit because “not everyone can afford the $100 for a conceal and carry class,” according to Semi Missourian. Research by Daniel Webster, Director of Gun Policy and Research, found that in the first six years after Missouri repealed background check and permit requirements the gun homicide rate rose by 16%. So $100 is a small price to pay for the lives of those victims fallen at the feet of gun holders in Missouri.

In the aftermath of an event like Las Vegas, Americans need to buckle down on the root of the issue. Gun control is more important than the face value that consists of just politics. Mental health evaluations and background checks should be required under any circumstances. Age restrictions should be raised significantly. Parents with guns should take more time and effort to lock up their weapons to avoid their children from finding them. Like any issue that costs innocent lives, we need to take direct action in order to achieve violence prevention.

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