There was another mass shooting in the U.S. this past weekend. It was at an outlet mall in Allen, Texas. Eight innocent people were killed, including children, and multiple more were injured. The shooter also died. You may or may not have heard about it. The news was sandwiched between stories on that silly coronation in London and coverage of the NBA playoffs. It was a mere blip on the news cycle. I took a quick peek at Twitter the day after. It wasn’t trending anymore. This grim violence has become commonplace for us.
The continued resistance to creating sensible gun control laws is confounding to me. Those opposed believe that any kind of reasonable legislation is an infringement on their Second Amendment rights. “They’re coming for our guns” is the popular rallying cry. To start, the spirit of the amendment was the right to keep and bear arms relative to a well-regulated militia. The founders did not intend for these protections to extend to individuals. Regardless, nobody is taking any guns away. Proponents of gun control legislation simply want to see reasonable regulations around access and use.
In order to drive a car in this country, one is required to have a driver’s license. While there is some variance state to state, drivers must also carry liability insurance and pay annual registration fees. For those driving in a more professional capacity, such as semi-truck drivers, more training is required, and a different type of license is issued. Millions of people drive vehicles and adhere to these laws. And to my knowledge, there has never been a widespread uprising that such regulations are an infringement on individual rights. Why should guns be any different?
The majority of people in this country, including many gun owners, are in favor of stricter gun control mandates such as criminal and mental background checks, limits on concealed carry licenses, bans on high capacity magazines and red flag laws for those who are a danger to themselves or others. Still, GOP lawmakers not only refuse to support such laws but also frequently shut down any discussions on the issue– the Tennessee Three being a case in point–despite what their constituents may want. Instead, they put laser focus on meaningless culture wars. Childrens’ bullet-ridden bodies may sprawl across school yards and shopping malls, but god forbid a drag queen read a banned book to a bunch of little kids at the local library story hour. Pro-life, much?
Due to the nature of my day job, I participate in active shooter trainings on a fairly regular basis. Roughly every quarter or so. Often, mass shootings from the past are used as instructional tools. These trainings have changed the way I move through public spaces. Whenever I’m in a large store (i.e., Target), a busy restaurant or a sporting event, I’m acutely aware of my surroundings. I routinely scan for exits and potential hiding places. Even weirder, I consider how I’ll manage my mind should I find myself in an active shooter situation. I’ve learned that even a nanosecond of disbelief or panic can result in death. This is all so twisted and grim. Albeit very small in the scheme of things, this is how my life has been impacted by our current gun culture.
As cynical as this sounds, I believe the only chance we’ll have of any kind of widespread and meaningful gun control in this country is if it’s profitable for someone. Large gun manufacturers care about earnings, not lives. And the National Rifle Association successfully represents these interests, with no regard for the egregious cost to humanity. And sadly, the GOP is in its fiscal grip. Horrific acts of violence and death are okay, as long as there’s a buck to be made.
This is what we’ve come to. And it’s madness.