Taking action in the wake of another school shooting

Shae Slaughter

There are certain events that shake us as U.S. citizens to the core. Oftentimes, these events prove to be divisive and citizens feel obligated to pick a side. One of these events occurred on Valentine’s Day, a day meant to strengthen the feeling of love, but it instead reinforced the existence of hate. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was ravaged by a mass shooting. Instinctive reactions were a combination of grief, disgust and activism, but now as a country we must ask ourselves what we’re really going to do about it.

Our country is certainly not new to mass shootings. We are engrained with memories of Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook and Columbine, among others. But the bigger problem is our lack of action in response to these occurrences. Our political system is far from efficient, but in the face of a problem as impactful as mass shootings, we need to buckle down and really make something happen.

The problem with most gun-related policy is simply that it is unactionable. This problem lies on both sides of the fence. For those who are “anti increased gun control,” no action can be taken because they do not want to infringe upon their Second Amendment rights. For those who are “pro increased gun control,” the solution oftentimes involves regulations or restrictions that are either too extreme or just too unlikely to occur. Of course there are gray areas on both sides of the debate, but ultimately the result is a standoff that holds strong until yet another shooting occurs.

Personally, I do not believe that removing all guns from the hands of U.S. citizens is the answer. Many people I know own guns and use them responsibly. I, myself, have shot a gun on multiple occasions. As cliche as it may be, it is true that guns don’t kill people: People kill people. I also don’t believe that our gun policy is faultless. Call me liberal, but I just don’t see the point in bump stocks or high-capacity magazines. In reality, they serve no function other than increased efficiency and deadliness. 

Still, at the end of the day, it is not my opinion that matters because I am not the one making the rules. To be honest, I don’t even have a solution to the predicament that our country is facing. I know that we need to change, but I also see faults in every proposal that comes about. Either way, I know that the worst thing we can do is nothing at all.

Whether you believe that guns, mental health or parenting is the problem, there is an actionable way to effect change. Maybe that means just being a more present citizen, or maybe it means voting differently come election time. But no matter what, we are not helpless in this struggle. Fortunately, it appears that our leaders are starting to follow suit because just recently President Donald Trump came out in support of banning bump stocks, and I commend him for doing so. Sure, it is only a small move, but it is better than no move at all.

As a country, the worst thing we can do for our citizens is nothing. We need to stop diverting attention from guns and mass shootings just because our world has other problems, too. Yes, people die in automobile accidents. Yes, people purchase drugs even though they’re illegal. Yes, guns will always exist in our country no matter the laws we pass. The world will always find evil and death, but does that mean that we should give up trying to circumvent it?

Whatever we choose to do from here on forward, it needs to be actionable because the U.S. is at a turning point. People should not be living in fear. This problem is multifaceted and there is no easy answer. There is no magic wand that will alleviate all of these problems, but ideally even one small policy change will begin to reduce the number and frequency of these unnecessary deaths.