This past weekend I was supposed to visit my college town for a concert with friends, but last minute I decided to stay home. Instead, I went to bed early so I could get up early for a volunteering event I had the next morning. I didn’t expect to wake up to an onslaught of text messages all saying the same thing: “There was a shooting.”
My college town is small; it is not the place you’d think a shooting would happen. But three were killed and two were injured just outside a bar I once spent many weekends drinking in. It shook me to my core that the place I’d once walked around safely without a second thought was the same place three people were murdered after someone shot into a crowd.
The next morning I woke up to similar news: “There was a shooting.” But this time it was in Las Vegas, and instead of three people killed, there were nearly 60 dead with over 500 injured.
So, when am I allowed to politicize this?
People argue that there is no good time, that bringing up the gun control debate at all is disrespectful to the victims and their families. But the fact of the matter is I’m not using mass shooting to push my agenda; I’m not just waiting for them to happen so I can throw another statistic into my argument.
The reason I bring up the gun control debate so early is because I want to stop this kind of thing from happening again.
My state legalized concealed carry on college campuses this past year, a decision that was met with backlash from students and professors alike. People argued that college students simply weren’t mature enough to handle weaponry when they were going through such an emotional time in their life — in fact, when I lived on campus, even knives weren’t allowed. And now, months after the decision, three 20-somethings are dead.
Las Vegas is the same thing but on a larger scale; after years of mass shootings growing rapidly in numbers, lawmakers refuse to consider gun reform. In fact, in many places, purchasing guns is an easier feat than ever. Instead of restricting the amount of people who can bear arms, which would potentially lower the amount of violent encounters with assault rifles, we distribute them at even higher volumes, hoping that maybe someone with a gun will be able to save us from someone else with a gun, completely ignoring the fact that both the UK and Australia have heightened their gun restrictions and saw extremely positive results.
So, again, when am I allowed to politicize this?
My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims in my college town and in Las Vegas, but I’ll be damned if I’m not going to follow up those thoughts and prayers with action. Because thoughts and prayers alone will not be able to stop the next bad guy with a gun, and they will not be able to help the next good guy with a gun stop the bad guy with a gun, and they cannot save us unless we are willing to save ourselves. Eventually, someone’s going to have to do something. We can’t keep going through the same cycles and expecting different outcomes.
So yes, I’m going to politicize this tragedy. Because maybe if we do it now, we won’t have to worry about this happening again.