Call for Action: Gun Control

Joshua Riebel ’20, Guest Writer

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Today marks a somber occasion. September 15th, 1966, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson attempted and in all honesty, failed to pass legislation to reduce or even limit the rate of gun violence in the United States. No American president had made such a hard push for this kind of legislation before him; further, his motivation came in the form of a devastating shooting at the University of Texas only a few weeks before. So, why in fifty years can we move from black and white television to Snapchat, yet be completely stagnant on such a polarizing and pressing issue? The answer is that there are parties out there who don’t want this change, and in turn a lot of us believe them. Still, I believe that in 2016 we as a people have the power and ability to make that change our nation so badly needs. Unlike 1966, we have the power to transmit and receive information anywhere on the planet in an instant. Now, we have that power; moreover, it is high time we used it for something other than tweeting out our favorite breakfast cereal.

How can we forget Trayvon Martin, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lennon, JFK, Robert Kennedy or the countless others gunned down way too soon. How can we ignore the 20 children who died in Newtown, the 82 dead and wounded in Aurora or the whopping 102 dead and wounded in Orlando earlier this year (Gun Violence Archive)? The answer is we cannot. We cannot forget any of them. This must be stopped. This is an issue which must transcend politics, bigotry, and agendas, if anything is to change. We cannot allow ourselves to sit by and watch the destruction of people’s lives, idly hoping things improve on their own.

So, what’s the solution to all of this? Despite its original intentions, the NRA has undeniably shifted from gun training into the political arena, making any real gun control legislation a heaping mess. Perhaps guns are useful in self-defense; however, they are primarily used for murders, attempted, or otherwise. This also includes suicides, both intentional and accidental. The final common defense of guns is that there simply aren’t enough in the hands of people who would use them responsibly; however, this logic is flawed. Just as throwing more wood into the fire only increases the size of the fire, more guns, and in turn more bullets, is decidedly very unsafe. There are even cases where the police have inflicted more collateral damage with errant bullets than the perpetrator. How anyone could feel safe with an armed, dubiously trained guard outside schools is absurd. Bullets can travel really far, such that a shootout outside a public building could wound or even kill people inside the building. Also, it is ludicrous to assume anyone can find and agree on “good guys” that will keep people safe. At the end of the day, each and every one of us has the power to make a difference.

Corrupt or otherwise, the United States is a democracy; therefore, her citizens use their voice to influence their government. Now that we’re eighteen, and have the right to vote, we have that power too. As the youngest generation of voters, it is our responsibility to use our ability, for this isn’t just about us. This is about the future. The generations before us ran the nation how they see fit; however, we have tools and resources they don’t have. We have social media, connecting us around the world. We can access news and information whenever and wherever we want. We are all connected. Rather than squandering this opportunity, complaining about the candidates, let’s take a stand. For many of us, this is the first year we have to start shaping our nation and ultimately the world for those who will follow us. We are in the process of being handed the keys to a car, a badly damaged, arguably totaled car; yet, it is still our car. Now, we can either choose to fix that car to the best of our ability and drive it, or use it until it finally sputters and completely ceases to function. We live in a world in which it is unsafe to be a minority in many states. We live in a world in which people are incentivized for hiding behind their weapons, beliefs and technology like a contemporary Wizard of Oz. We do not have to face this alone, as there are over fifty organizations in the U.S. dedicated to eradicating gun violence. I can only speak for myself, but I want to leave behind a world in which my descendants— my children— won’t have to be afraid.

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