Last week, on the 274th day of 2015, the 294th mass shooting since Jan. 1 took place. That calculates to approximately 1.1 mass shootings each day this year.
In Roseburg, Oregon, students of Umpqua Community College began their Thursday morning like any other: They planned out their day, studied for last-minute exams and stressed over past-due homework. Nothing could have prepared them for the mass shooting that left 10 of their peers dead. And apparently, nothing — not even gun laws and restrictions — could have prevented this tragedy either.
It’s been 16 years since the Columbine High School shooting. But even as we’ve seen scores of mass shootings at schools nationwide, there has been no change. Even after the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012 that resulted in 26 fatalities, there has been no change. Even after the 45 school shootings in the United States so far in 2015, once again, there has been no change. As President Barack Obama explained after the UCC shooting, “We have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths.” We live in a country where the people who are supposed to protect us end up being our own demise. Gun reform on a national level is still compromised by Congress and legislation, and it needs to stop.
One of the solutions to these reccurrences is blatant: enforce stricter policies on gun laws and see an immediate shift in gun violence. Though it won’t end gun violence in its entirety, it’s a start. In the wake of repeated mass shootings, Congress hasn’t helped end the brutality and has enabled the progressive gun violence.
Current gun protection regulation has proven tactless. This includes the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which prohibits the right to bear to arms if one does not meet certain criteria. While people listed, including fugitives and domestic abusers, are turned away from acquiring a gun, many aren’t prosecuted for their attempts, so they can find other means to obtain one. The act also doesn’t require mental evaluation, which should be necessary today when many shootings are fueled by perpetrators with mental illnesses.
Pia Carusone, senior adviser of Americans For Responsible Solutions, an anti-gun violence group, said in an MSNBC interview that even the simple enforcement of nationwide background checks could make all the difference. And while this appears easy to implement, Congress still argues that there are already enough gun laws enforced, background checks can be considered an invasion of privacy and that most criminals resort to the black market for their weapons.
“The United States of America is the one advanced nation on Earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense gun-safety laws — even in the face of repeated mass killings,” Obama said.
Yet, while the U.S. remains a world leader, it is also, as the Wall Street Journal notes, a world leader in number of mass shootings. Nations such as Australia and Britain hardly experience gun violence, let alone mass shootings. After incidents of gun violence between the 1970s up till the mid-1990s, these nations implemented effective gun regulations. As a result, the U.K. only had a total of 1.8 million licensed guns for a population of just under 65 million as of last year. This should set for the United States; when terror and tragedy takes the lives of innocent bystanders, something needs to be done to prevent it in the future.
Since the Sandy Hook shooting, the public has expected gun legislation reform. There have now been 142 school shootings since Sandy Hook, and over 80,000 people have been killed by a gun. Though state action proves hopeful, with some states providing stricter gun laws that successfully reduce gun-related deaths, there always seems to be a loophole. As long as the Second Amendment remains intact, Congress will always hide behind its vagueness to avoid gun reform on a national level. Until a nationwide change is made, students, parents and children live in fear that the events that took place at UCC can happen to them next.
The lives that have been lost due to gun violence represent a sum that objectifies the matter. Enough is enough. These are individuals with families, with loved ones, with lives they should’ve been able to live. It was enough that fateful day in 1999 in Columbine, Colorado, and it was enough last week in Oregon. The United States can’t live in a constant state of mourning any longer.