The Violence of Lies

Kevin Ssonko ’20, Opinion Columnist


The events in Parkland, Florida have both shocked and disturbed the nation. The killing of 17 young people at the Florida high school has once again raised the issue of gun control, and we have once again returned to conversations about whether or not we need to have weapons in order to maintain a peaceful and civil society. It is hard for me not to notice that as I have come of age, news of massive gun massacres have been as much a part of my life as high school graduation, prom, and football games. But built into this experience has been becoming familiar with the futility of our political system to listen to the cries of those who have been the victims of gun violence and respond with sensible gun control policy.

There is nothing more frustrating to me, as a political observer, than moral inaction. Indeed, any gain that has been made in our society on behalf of the vulnerable has been a result of deep conviction and courage. But this conviction seems to be consistently missing in the case of gun control in our times. Shooting after shooting passes in our society and there is little but offers of thoughts and prayers by politicians who were elected to those positions; swearing an oath to serve and protect their constituents. But while those same politicians are offering their sober thoughts and prayers, they turn around and collect massive donations from the (National Rifle Association) NRA, who continue to push for less and less gun restriction even in the face of the moral crisis of gun violence in our nation. It would seem that in the case of gun control the nation has found itself caught in a moral crisis, which has allowed too many people to have to deal with the preventable death of loved ones at the hands of a culture that has made it normal for citizens to possess the weapons of war.

It seems now that we find ourselves at a moral crossroads as a nation. The voices of the vulnerable, whether they be the students of Stoneman Douglass high school, or the inner-city mothers of south-side Chicago, have spoken. There is a demand and a need for sensible gun control policy, the question is whether our elected officials will listen to the voice of the people, or the voices of their donors from the NRA who continue to lobby Washington against the interests of the American people. Washington stands with a moral choice to side with those suffering under the brutality of a broken system surrounding guns, or side with those who are actively advocating that this system be continued.

The thing that has always bothered me about the way that people have discussed gun control in America is how it appears some people think that those who want more restrictions on guns think that it will stop all forms of violence and death. Frequently in conversation about this issue, I hear people say something to the effect of “Taking away the guns won’t stop people from dying.” But this is a straw man argument. I don’t believe anyone believes that gun restrictions will end all violence, as if it were some retroactive world peace plan. I think that people just want to live in a world where a weapon that can easily take someone’s life is easier to get than medication that can save your life.

Indeed, we find ourselves tangled in the violence of lies. People continue to die, and those in power continue to do nothing and find whatever means necessary to explain why not. It is an indictment on the American experiment that a system designed to honor the principles of justice fails to deliver justice to those in need regardless of what events transpire. The one thing that American politicians can count on is that Americans will not stop talking about this. As long as we live in a world where we have easier access to the tools of destruction than the tools of liberation, then there will always be people like the students of Stoneman Douglass high school who shall cry “Never Again.”

Despite the efforts to maintain the violence of lies there will always be those who will speak on behalf of the power of truth.