Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

United States must be proactive, not reactive, when making gun laws

I wish I could say that I can’t believe we have to talk about this again but the sad, sad truth is that I’m not very surprised.

When there are pot holes on a highway and someone gets into a car accident, you fill the pot hole. When drunk driving sees a steep increase, harsher restrictions are put into place. When bad things happens the obvious course of direction would be to fix them.

So why does gun violence only seem to be getting worse?

On Monday, Sept. 16, 13 people died after a gun rampage at the Washington Naval Yard. The gunman was former sailor Aaron Alexis and he caused the worst attack on a U.S. military base since Fort Hood. The gunman opened fire with an arsenal as reported by law enforcement to be three weapons: an AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun and a hand gun that he had stolen from a police officer on the scene.

Aaron Alexis had been arrested at least twice before for gun related incidents.

When the tragedy of the Sandy Hook massacre took place last year, there was a seemingly general consensus that something needed to change, and quick. Kids dying from gun violence in a place that was supposed to provide a safe haven, a place of growth and nurturing, was supposed to be the last straw, our unifying grief for the loss of innocents. It seemed to spark the hope for regulations that would help make society feel safer.

And now 13 people have been shot dead on U.S. military ground. This has become an issue of national security.

Guns showcase the metaphorical American bravado; it packs a whole lot of power and destruction in a compact machine. We’re powerful because we have the “right” to protect ourselves. However, in the past year it seems more individuals have lost their lives at the hands of guns rather than be protected.

Photo by Flickr user CT State Democrats

There should be a great increase to background checks so people like Alexis with two cases to his name concerning gun violence can’t happen. Drunk drivers have to blow into a machine in their car before they can start the ignition. Sex offenders have their names plastered all over towns so that people and parents can keep their children safe. Helmets and seat belts are enforced. There are multiple ads released each year about how drugs are bad, how they’ll ruin your life and how drugs kill.

We’re becoming a society of reaction rather than being proactive. Instead of putting the laws into effect that put a stop to the heinous and unnecessary murder of civilians we’re instead learning to deal with it. Children are taught in kindergarten how to hide under tables and stifle their voices in case of an intruder. Audiences look for their exits and easy accessible walk ways when sitting in a movie theater in case they’re in need of an abrupt and dire getaway. It’s become the norm to double and triple check over your shoulder and look into the nooks and crannies of your life and make sure there is nothing life-threatening hiding there.

Hindsight is a dangerous and disruptive tool of thinking. According to the Washington Post, Alexis had been exhibiting erratic behavior that put neighbors, peers and employers alike into a state of worry. Yet they stayed quiet. There have been rumors and rumblings of hallucinations and hearing voices and even schizophrenia. Yet this man was allowed to purchase guns, waltz into a Naval Yard and destroy lives.

How did this happen and what can we do to stop? Words, no matter if they’re from activists or the President, don’t seem to be squelching the upsetting nature of gun violence anytime soon. If drastic action wasn’t taken after children died at the hands of a shooter, what chance do we have of living in a country who honestly will probably always allow for people to own guns. But we should at the very least do thorough and annual background checks on the gun owners and who make sure that the members of our society are kept safe and sound from the people who slip under the radar.

According to The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, on average 32 Americans are murdered with guns every day and 140 are treated for gun assault in an emergency room. One in three people in the U.S. know someone who has been shot and most troublesome of all, American children die by guns 11 times as often as children in any other high-income country.

The Washington Naval Shooting was only the most recent tragedy. Are we supposed to sit biding our time and hope that the news is free of gun violence or do we take action and speak out about the deaths these machines have been inflicting on our society?

 

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United States must be proactive, not reactive, when making gun laws