In the past two weeks, I have checked my email twice to read of innocent blood violently shed.
More than 30 people awoke to what they probably assumed would just be another day in their life, only to find that very life torn from their unwilling bodies.
In reading through the reactions that followed, perhaps the most honest was that of a journalist I admire. She lamented that she’d "become so desensitized to mass shootings,” that she “read [that two people had died] an hour ago and actually breathed a sigh of relief and thought, ‘okay, it sucks but it could be worse... but even those two lives would have been too many.”
All too often we are bombarded with death counts. Between shootings and the war in Ukraine, they all seem to just blur together. Something in us revolts at the thought of silence.
So, the graphics go up. The news clips are reposted, and thoughts and prayers are offered. Moments of silence preclude, for a moment, the anger that follows. Where peace should begin to be cultivated, trenches are dug, hostilities thrown.
And then, in a few weeks, maybe a bit longer, we move on until the next time. And the next time is all too soon.
Why do we continue to do this to not only ourselves and our nation, but also to the communities of survivors left to truly grapple with a new reality? Groups of people get singled out as being the cause. The conspiracy theories begin to fly.
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But, in a way, we cannot help it. The world was always full of killing, but now we hear about it the moment it happens.
We may not recognize it for what it is, but these events are traumatic even for the person just reading about them. For now, we see anywhere we go as the location of the next mass shooting because they make no sense. So, we step into the conversation doing the only thing we think we can do in that moment.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
For all we long and desire, the federal government is not the catch-all solution to America’s love affair with guns. Owning a gun is not a morally flagrant action. It is akin to owning a knife or a car.
No one piece of legislation will uncouple us from the commonplace of guns in our cultural thinking. Our movies, TV shows, our toys. John Wick, a movie about a man very attached to guns, was turned into a trilogy. Each movie made more and more money. And this is not uncommon.
I don’t believe our solution lies outside of the government, especially in terms of our local and state governments. The reason for the existence of government is to provide an environment in which people might be free and live without fear of their neighbors, not for money or power. We forget this. Just as with alcohol and driving, guns do not just put their owners at risk, but also those around them.
According to the New York Times, taken together with suicides and accidental shootings, “guns killed about 45,000 Americans last year.”
So, let more extensive background checks and bans on automatic weapons be a part of the solution.
Over the past year, I have realized how much I fail to take tangible action. So, I plan to begin to write my representative on a regular basis.
We all have direct access to our politicians, a benefit of democracy. At the end of this, I attached the links to find who our representatives are so we can do more to take action on our words. Let us hold one another accountable.
To those of us who own guns, owning a gun is nothing like owning a knife or a car. Guns are fun and can be used for honest purposes. There is no denying that. However, to look at the Second Amendment as a full defense for the ease of access we now have to an array of firearms would be lacking.
We miss on patriotism when we allow our idolizations of these weapons to arrive at the point that any sort of attempted regulation is seen as a full-scale invasion of gun rights.
We all agree that speed limits and traffic signage are vital to us all being able to drive on the roads. We may not agree on a certain speed limit, but in general, we obey the laws because, ideally, we recognize that they have been created so that we might all be free from worry.
And yes, crime rates are rising. There is a greater sense that we should need to defend ourselves; however, that is why we have police forces. As much reform as there is left to do, let us trust that these forces are for the public good will and are doing their jobs.
Here, the need is not to put a gun in everyone’s hand and call it security. Guns may not kill people, but they make people killing people far more prone to snap judgments and unabated hatred. People are much more fragile than we give ourselves credit for, and adding an immediate deadly weapon to the mix makes things no more stable.
An example of moving in the wrong direction, Alabama’s recent bill to introduce permit-less concealed carry, is not making Alabama a safer state.
Stricter carry permit laws make it easier for police to enforce gun laws. Legislation for extensive background checks and carry permit regulations do not infringe on the desires of the well-intentioned. They do add obstacles to the plans of the villainous.
If we believe guns are important, let us prioritize safety training, proper gun storage and heavy regulation. This is what living in a democracy is: compromise. And it's exhilarating and exhausting, that we, as individuals, may be agents of change.
Garrett Martinez is a senior studying psychology at Auburn University.
The opinions expressed in columns and letters represent the views and opinions of their individual authors.
These opinions do not necessarily reflect the Auburn University student body, faculty, administration or Board of Trustees.
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