A week and a day ago, I woke up, opened a push notification on my phone and wept. As I had slept, over 500 people at the Route 91 music festival fell victim to senseless violence, the worst shooting carried out by one gunman in our country’s history. Over 500 lives were forever changed, 58 lives lost.
It wasn’t long before I heard my peers sigh, shrug and insist that people will always find a way to inflict harm. Under this view, gun control is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction.
I wonder if the proposed assault weapons ban that followed Sandy Hook was also a knee-jerk reaction. Would my peers call the background check amendments that our Senate failed to pass after the attack on the Orlando gay nightclub frantic fear-mongering? Are the 100-plus failed pieces of proposed federal legislation, all drafted after the past five years of incessant gun violence, also just involuntary impulses?
The reactions last Monday calling for gun control were not knee-jerk reactions. They were natural expressions of grief and frustration because our legislature did nothing to prevent this horrendous loss of life, despite concerted efforts to implement sensible gun policy. Gun control advocates have watched their attempts to compromise, reason and debate go nowhere for the past five years, and in just a few minutes, one man murdered dozens in a record-breaking shooting.
The fight for gun control is not a fight to steal your hunting rifles. The fight for gun control is a fight for lives that shouldn’t have to end in senseless violence. It’s a fight that’s taken years of research, discussion and compromise, only to suffer defeat after defeat. Despite countless offers of rational policy, special interest groups drown democracy and science with their misleading portrayal of gun control as a government weapon-seizure.
Our country’s plea is fairly simple: Make guns safer. On the whole, most voters agree on gun control. Some proposed measures like universal background checks garner support from more than 80 percent of Americans. But time and time again, the most rational bills fail on Congress’ floor. This defeat continues because the National Rifle Association and its tiny membership of five million twists gun control advocates into totalitarian boogeymen out to get the American people.
Cries for gun control are a result of analyzing and watching patterns of change. We have witnessed the success of legislation that makes public safety hazards like cars and kitchen utilities less dangerous, reducing death and harm. We have heard the American people answer questions on increased background checks, closing loopholes and stricter enforcement of pre-existing laws with a resounding yes.
We have said, over and over, that gun control is by no means a mission to ban all guns. Let me repeat: Gun control advocates are not coming to rip your gun out of your hands.
The evidence used to support both sides of this argument hasn’t changed in the last week, but the lives lost to gun violence noticeably rose. The knee-jerk reaction here is not to call for sensible gun policy. The knee-jerk reaction is to ignore facts, progress, countless tragedies and the voters themselves.
Larcher is a Plan II and rhetoric and writing sophomore from Austin.