Note from Opinion Editor, Anna-JO Stuart- In light of the recent investigation on the NRA and their finances as a non-profit organization, this opinion piece on gun violence is being rerun. This piece was written by Elizabeth Schoof shortly after the Las Vegas shooting. The NRA has a lot of lobbying power in Congress, and has influenced many attempts at passing new legislation on gun control. Not much has happened since the Las Vegas shooting in terms of gun control, and a big reason for this is the power of the NRA. New York is having an inquiry on the tax-exempt status of the NRA, as questionable payments of millions of dollars have been shuffled to a small group of NRA executives. The following is an opinion on what it is like to live in fear of gun violence, as well as the desensitization to its frequent occurrence.
Story by Elizabeth Schoof, Staff Writer
The first time I remember being truly affected by a mass shooting, I was a freshman in high school. We were sitting in the computer lab working on class projects, and the words “Sandy Hook Elementary School” flashed across my screen. After that day, everything changed. For weeks afterwards, my teachers kept our classroom doors locked during school hours. My mom started openly praying over my brother and I when we got out of her car for school. Every student in the building was prepped with information about the quickest exits as well as the safest rooms to be in. We were given the information to make us feel safer, but knowledge doesn’t stand a chance against bullets.
Since Sandy Hook, there has been an increase in mass shootings, and with that, an increase in fear. From what happened at The Dark Knight Rises to what happened at Pulse night club, the terror that comes with mass shootings has become a part of everyday life. When I heard about what happened in Vegas, I wasn’t surprised– and I should have been.
The fact that I live in a world in which nearly 60 people can lose their lives in a night, should shock me, but it doesn’t. Do I feel terrible about what happened? Absolutely. Do I wish that we could go back and do something to prevent it from happening? No doubt. But the thing is, feeling bad doesn’t do any good. It doesn’t matter how many prayers get sent up to God if we aren’t willing to do our part and work to make the world a better place.
For me, pulling our weight means investing in better gun control in the United States. I understand that individuals want to feel safe in their own homes, and for some that means owning firearms. I respect an individual’s right to do so, and I do not think that it should be taken away. Rather, I think that the rules need to be adjusted. There is no reason that a gun designed to kill mass quantities of people should be available to someone who simply wants to prevent a burglary from happening. We need to find a method of doing better background checks and work to create a more regulated system for purchasing weapons. We need to find a method of keeping people safe.
I want to live in a world that allows my friends and I to go to any concert of our choice, without wondering if gunshots will replace the music. I want to be able to attend a midnight premiere for my favorite movie series, and not have a doubt in my mind when I sit down with my popcorn. Someday, I want to be able to send my kids to school, and not worry about whether or not I’ll get to see them come home at night. In order to do that, however, we need to take steps now to ensure that people are safe with their firearms. If we work together and we find methods of compromise, it won’t be long until we can find a way to allow individuals to own firearms without putting others at risk. We need to work to ensure that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, or else things will only get worse.