America’s mass shooting epidemic and what to do about it

262 school shootings since Columbine. 294 mass shootings this year so far. 380 deaths and 1,000 injuries attributed to those mass shootings. Nearly 10,000 killed and 20,000 wounded in close to 40,000 overall gun violence incidents this year. And by the time you read this, those numbers will only have gone up. Once more, in the wake of the Oregon shootings, we are forced, as a country, to once more ask ourselves: When is it enough? Newtown wasn’t enough. Aurora wasn’t enough. Not even four months ago, Charleston wasn’t enough. I find it incredibly unrealistic that Roseburg will be enough either. How many people need to lose their lives because of America’s gun policies? Are we waiting for some magic number before serious legislative changes are made to the way we deal with guns? What number is that – 50,000 dead in one year and then we’ll respond? 75,000? 100,000? We live in a society that is numb to gun violence because it happens so frequently, it would be too devastating to not be numb to it.

Almost every day I see news of yet another shooting, another shooter who should not have been able to access a gun, another devastating, dark moment for Americans and another opportunity where something can be done, yet isn’t.

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The most sickening element isn’t even the fact that these shootings are happening – it’s the fact that these shootings are allowed to continue happening. Any politician that says we cannot prevent this murder epidemic is lying. Any politician that acknowledges this but refuses to introduce any legislation to counter it is not doing their job. The fact that these statistics are so high is one thing, but the fact that there is no other developed country in the world that can be compared to America’s gun violence totals is evidence that America. Is. Doing. Something. Wrong. We have unjustifiably high rates of murders and mass shootings while every other country in the world doesn’t, and there are still Americans who will argue that attempting to limit these weapons is wrong.

If I lived in any other country in the world, I would pity America for the lack of initiative being taken to solve this issue. Politicians need to find ways to limit the amount of guns available to retailers, and the amount that any one individual can purchase at a time. Politicians need to find ways to limit the amount of ammunition available to retailers, and the amount that any one individual can purchase at a time. Politicians need to find ways to not only create but enforce strong, unavoidable, tedious, lengthy background checks to ensure that these weapons stop being sold to the same archetype of prejudiced or mentally disturbed individuals intending to use them for the nefarious evils that motivated their desire for a gun to begin with.

I can openly say that I don’t know nearly enough about politics, statistics, or guns to be saying for certainty what America needs to do to finally place the epidemic of mass shootings under wraps. However, I don’t think that any one person could effectively argue that limiting guns and ammunition, and who has access to them, is a bad idea. I shouldn’t have to be sitting here typing up this rebuttal in the first place, however. It isn’t supposed to be my place to tell America how to govern itself; my place is supposed to be a safe citizen who does not live with the constant fear of being randomly stricken down by a crazed man’s stray bullet. But yet, here I am, telling American politicians what to do because they have millions of American lives in their hands. I know this. Victims’ families know this. Deep down, these politicians know this too. Things. Need. To. Change.

Michael O’Malley

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