In the wake of the devastating tragedy in Orlando on June 12th, the debate over gun sovereignty has flared up once again, begging the question, whose fault is it? The U.S is no stranger to gun violence and mass shootings, as gun violence has risen. Mass shootings occurred six months apart on average before 2011. Since then, only two months go by in between them. Little action has been taken to prevent their occurrence, and the cycle of blame-shifting is already beginning.
This blame oscillates between guns, gun owners, terrorist organizations, parents, loose regulations surrounding weapon accessibility, media, desensitization to violence– the list could go on forever. However, the continual narrative that the media delivers tends to be rigid. As humans, we compartmentalize and label in an attempt to simplify and create neat order and control, as well as to resolve an issue, then file it away as completed and move on. This is also the way we have historically confronted intricate, multifaceted issues such as mass shootings; an approach which has proven greatly ineffective. There isn’t one simplistic answer to “who is at fault” for this reoccurring violence. It has far more complexity than that and scapegoating Muslims, or guns, or the establishment isn’t going to solve anything. Awareness is the key to change. It’s glaringly obvious that gun violence in the United States is an issue, one that asks for all of the underlying factors to be examined. How can it be navigated effectively without treading on people’s right to bear arms which we fiercely cling to, while also preventing future violence?
It begins with realism. It is unrealistic to expect Americans to give up their right to bear arms, as the second amendment is oftentimes synonymous with the ideals of patriotism and freedom, principles many will argue the United States were founded upon. Instead, it’s about recognizing that if portions of the population are going to be owning guns, the focus must shift to how that can be facilitated with greater responsibility and security. The institution of specific regulations and precedents for obtaining a gun would need to be revisited.
A tendency to “symptom treat” rather than addressing preventatives and finding innovative techniques to solve underlying issues, leaves Americans with unsustainable, ineffective solutions to complex social problems. One of those being the manner in which mass shootings are handled; a few moments of silence and media coverage, the avoidance of legislative action, and evading the topic entirely. Considering the stigma surrounding mental health, including depression, anxiety, and personality disorders in the United States, it’s not surprising that many people feel discouraged or unable to actively seek help when they’re struggling. This is another facet that tends to be overlooked until a bout of unnecessary violence occurs and it briefly gets referenced in the news.
Racial profiling and the fear proliferated by a lack of education and exposure adds to a biased, widespread narrative of blame. Labeling non-white offenders as “terrorists” enables dangerous generalizations, like blaming an entire group of people, rather than labeling anyone who instills terror, regardless of race, as a terrorist.
These merely scratch the surface of how convoluted the way we see violence has become. The why’s are less important than what we’re doing about it. It is possible to explore further into why these horrible tragedies occur, while simultaneously taking action. Monday’s performance from Democrats on the House floor illustrates the frustration with the lack of consideration in preventing further violence. Paul Ryan received shouts of, “Where’s the bill?” and, “No leadership!” after initiating a moment of silence, then proceeded to leave the gun laws untouched.
It is irresponsible, unsafe, and inexcusable to continue pretending that gun violence in the U.S is something that will disappear on its own. It is unacceptable that innocent people are losing their lives continuously because no action is being taken. Taking action is up to us and we are obligated to be involved in creating the world in which we can live peacefully.
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