A common side effect of living abroad is thinking about how much you miss your home country, as much as you might love the country in which you are currently residing. Lately, I can’t help but think about all of the things I miss about the U.S. I miss the efficiency with which things are run, generally speaking, the logic exercised in the resolving of day to day issues, good customer service, clean, hygienic public areas, the passion we have for individual rights, particularly freedom of speech, and a whole slew of other things.
If that list seems to consist of a random assortment of things to miss, try living in a developing country for awhile and you’ll have a newfound appreciation for how good we have it in America, if you don’t already (not to bash other countries, a few of which I have spent considerable amounts of time in, and hold dear in my heart). I might sound stereotypically American, but I really do think that we live in a great country. “Great,” however, is certainly not synonymous with “flawless.” It’s not an exaggeration to say that a glaring issue, of a particularly harrowing nature, is plaguing our country: there have been more mass shootings so far this year in the U.S. than days of the year that have passed.
294 mass shootings in 274 days, to be exact. America is a great country, but it’s the only developed nation in the world where tragedies involving gun violence happen so strikingly regularly. We can, and are morally obligated, to do better than that.
When I saw the news of the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, I was deeply saddened, as I have been in the past after hearing news of yet another mass shooting taking place in America. However, after hearing about this particular incident, I felt a new emotion: fear. As mentioned, I haven’t been in the U.S. in nearly a year and a half. I’m heading back there in about 3 weeks, and I’m beyond excited, but I’d be lying if I said that I have zero fear about returning to a country where any mentally disturbed individual can so easily get his or her hands on a gun.
These mass shootings seem to happen anywhere and everywhere. It’s a morbid thought, but I can’t help but think, “Will I be in a movie theater the next time a gunman takes fire?” “Will I be at the grocery store?” “If not me, will someone I know and love be in the wrong place at the wrong time?” I never imagined that the thought of living in America, a country I love so much, would, to an extent, invoke fear in me.
How many more mass shootings need occur before we mirror the solutions implemented by other developed nations, those where incidents of this nature occur far less often? We need to stop the glorification of violence, improve and increase access to mental healthcare, and, as seems to me painfully obvious, we need gun control. It is the latter solution with which so many Americans take issue. To those individuals, I emphasize that what our founding fathers called for was a well-regulated militia, not a chaotic and tragic environment where the mentally disturbed can open fire at will.
I don’t want to carry with me any ounce of fear when I return home. I don’t want to live in a country that is so great, yet so deeply flawed when it comes to issues of gun violence. Those opposing the simple solution of gun control ought to ask themselves if they would maintain that position on the issue should someone they know and love be the victim of one of these crimes. We are a country of great people who so sadly remain divided on an issue that is literally costing lives.
I feel it safe to assume that those who drafted the constitution, with the best interests of the American people at heart, would want to ensure the safety of our citizens, and, importantly, they would want us to have access to a freedom that comes with gun control, and is violated by a lack thereof: freedom from fear.