It’s hard not to feel powerless after yet another mass shooting
The story of the recent shooting in a Texas church, while still tragic, is nothing new to Americans.
It had barely been a month since the previous mass shooting in Las Vegas claimed 58 lives and injured hundreds when Devin Patrick Kelley killed 26 people in a small town’s congregation.
After the initial shock and sadness that these shootings bring, questions always arise. People want to know how we can prevent shootings like this happening in the future, and answers are never easy to come by.
Tighter gun control would be an obvious answer to fighting gun violence. Stricter background checks and banning more dangerous weapons are suggestions that have been brought up as solutions to prevent tragedies, such as those in Texas and Las Vegas, from happening. Of course — like many things in life — stopping these shootings may not be as simple as implementing stricter gun laws.
Take the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, as an example. The gunman had been court-martialed by the Air Force in 2012 on two charges of assault — one against his wife, and one against her child. Unfortunately, the Air Force failed to report this, which would have made it illegal for Kelley to obtain a gun, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Kelley’s troubled past does not end there. In 2012, he escaped a mental health facility after making death threats against his superiors in the Air Force. It is obvious that Kelley was not mentally well, and pro-gun advocates have attributed this as a reason for this and other mass shootings. However, it is important to remember that most people with mental illnesses are no more prone to violence than those without, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The fact of the matter is, he should not have been able to buy a gun in the first place.
So where does the blame for this incident lie? What can we do to prevent tragedies like this in the future? Sadly, this will probably not be the last time we ask these questions.
For starters, some blame has to go to the Air Force for not entering Kelley’s domestic violence case into a database which would make it illegal for him to purchase a gun. If the U.S. is serious about preventing those who should not own guns from purchasing them, then we have to be more vigilant. In a nation of millions, mistakes can easily be made by those who have the power to prevent potential tragedies like this from happening, but these oversights have proven to be deadly.
Of course, the Air Force is not the only one at fault here. 310 million non-military firearms were in the United States in 2009, according to figures from CNN in 2009. While this data is almost ten years old, it is hard to imagine there has been too big of a shift in these figures.
The scary thing is, in a country filled with firearms, obtaining one — whether legally or illegally — is not difficult. It is easy to be frightened by the notion that a future mass shooter may have military grade weapons in their possession right now.
It is easy to feel powerless in this world we live in, especially with the amount of violence and terror we see in the headlines and on our televisions on a daily basis. Fortunately, there are things we as citizens can do to help. However, it won’t be easy.
To prevent gun violence, we must stay vigilant and keep in contact with those who govern us. As American citizens, we have the privilege of easily contacting those with power in government, whether it be members of congress or our local officials. It’s our job to make our voices heard by letting our government know that we demand change and the right to feel safe.