By Caitlyn Freeman
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
It’s like we’re in the 1950s and 1960s all over again. Then, you didn’t know who was a communist, the same way you don’t know who a shooter in a crowded mall could be. This paranoia is being relived. Kids all over the country fear going to school each day, because today could be “the day,” sitting in classrooms and planning an escape route in the event that someone opens fire on campus. Parents are forced to have “in the event of a shooter” talks with their kindergartners. This is the new “normal.”
According to the Gun Violence Archive, in 2017 America was home to approximately 61,599 gun violence incidents. This resulted in approximately 15,613 casualties.
Movie theaters, sidewalks, music festivals: all locations of gun violence, all locations that are supposed to be safe. Now, you can’t even go to the grocery store anymore without the thought of a shooter crossing your mind. It’s absolute insanity. The Pulse Nightclub, Route 91 Harvest music festival, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. When did these places become shooting ranges? A person attending a music concert shouldn’t have to worry about getting gunned down in between sets. This tragic phenomenon is taking over our lives, and nothing is being done to change this.
In 2016, President Obama attempted to pass legislation that would impose gun restrictions, which included mandatory background checks for people who wished to purchase a firearm. He also sought to increase mental health treatment that could prevent a person with mental health issues from opening fire. The legislation required the Department of Justice, Defense, and Homeland Security to conduct research into gun safety technology. However, Congress, which is conservatively led, believes that any law restricting the purchase of military grade assault rifles and accessories, such as bump stocks, or any law that requires a person to receive a background check before the purchase of said weapons, is a violation of the Second Amendment.
Now, it’s not just Congress’ fault. The National Rifle Association, commonly referred to as the NRA, cares more about gun sales and rights than they do human lives. Their constant lobbying for relaxed regulations results in zero change. During a CNN town hall held one week after the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Senator Marco Rubio pointed out that the NRA donates considerable amounts of money to conservative political action committees, who then donate the money to conservatives in Congress in order to receive their support. The NRA also donates money directly to conservative politicians. The Guardian reported that Rubio has received only $4,950 directly from the NRA in 2016, but the NRA also spent more than $1 million on his reelection efforts.
Gun violence is a vicious cycle that will never end unless legislation begins. We will continue to mourn. We will continue to protest. We will continue to see daily shooting reports on the 6 o’clock news and on Twitter Moments. This will continue because politicians like Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan—with Ryan, according to The Guardian, having received approximately $49,650 in direct contributions from the NRA throughout his nearly two decades in Congress—don’t care about people, they care about dollar signs and reelection.
This is the new “normal.”