By VICTOR SAVAGE
Those with little knowledge on American politics can identify a pattern in this country that happens any time there is a massively publicized shooting. First comes the rampant speculation, followed by scrounging for motives and backstory for the killers, a call for a “national conversation” on gun violence, a general pushback by the National Rifle Association, conservative politicians, and then a reburial of the issue until the next scheduled tragedy.
Many Americans are sick of this constant merry-go-round, and are even more fed up with the fact that mass shootings seem to happen so often in the USA.
The fact is, a different national conversation needs to happen. Not one on preventing gun violence, or addressing mental health issues, nor one on helping law enforcement with preemptive measures. We need to get used to mass shootings.
The gun issue has no real points of reconciliation for either side. We could have done something a long time ago. Conservatives like Ronald Reagan were in favor of gun control in the 1960s and 1970s, when the major concern over who could carry guns came in the form of the Black Panther Party.
While they had a similar message of personal defense and solidarity against reactionary government forces, they were the target of some of the first laws that limited where and when one could carry guns.
The NRA has similarly changed its stance on the right to guns, as its original membership were ousted in a sort of a coup in 1977. Once a hunting and fishing group with views much like the Sierra Club, the takeover by gun rights activists has lead the NRA to be at the forefront of any gun issue across the country. Since the mood has swung around since then this has led to a much different environment to argue this.
With this sea change has come a reinterpretation of the Second Amendment. While previously a minor part of the Bill of Rights, and indeed as a part of most Americans’ lives, a view has been pushed to the forefront that it not only protects the right for “a well-regulated militia” but that of people’s individual gun rights.
This is the major obstacle in the way of gun reform. While there could hypothetically be cure to gun violence in the form of a law or executive action, the Supreme Court has the final say on these issues. If the court rules against even the most heavily supported regulation, the law is moot and we have to return to square one.
Every time an occurrence of mass violence with a gun occurs people immediately spring up to spread fear and panic. The NRA typically holds a press conference to disassociate the proliferation of guns to the shooting, while talk show hosts and members of congress hype up the tired narrative that the
Obama administration will use the tragedy to take people’s guns away. These absurd reactions only serve to harden any consensus on trying to fix the problem, no matter how ineffective or paltry the restrictions.
Other countries have much smaller gun violence rates despite their population or size. The United Kingdom heavily regulates the use and ownership of firearms, and so does Australia, but they both treat gun violence deaths as freak tragedies, not as a regular segment in the news. America seems to be the only place where guns are too deep in the country’s ways that they are practically sacred.
I can see no legitimate way with the Second Amendment as it is will allow us to solve this problem.
People can and will get guns through any way possible. Nadal Malik Hassan, the shooter at Fort Hood, had access to guns as a member of the military, while Adam Lanza, the shooter at Sandy Hook, used guns his parents had bought.
The America we live in has come to a point where mass violence is a current occurrence and an unsolvable problem, and despite our best efforts there is not much left to do. America is a country where we let mass killings happen.