When I woke up yesterday morning, I sat staring at my phone reading coverage of the Las Vegas shooting and watching as the death toll rose right before my eyes. It was a scene with which I was all too familiar. I watched as reporters labeled the Orlando shooting the deadliest in recent history, now they were making the same claims just over a year later.
Almost everything I want to say has already been said time and time again in myriad statements made about mass shootings over the years. Thoughts and prayers are, undeniably, not going to bring back the lives lost in Las Vegas, Orlando, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, San Bernadino, or Columbine. We should, of course, hope that the families who lost a loved one can find time to heal and space to grieve, but we should also do whatever we can to prevent more people from dying from the power of a gun.
There's a narrative that is often perpetrated after mass shootings that blames the left for politicizing the victims' deaths. However, this just silences any debate about how to move forward and change. How can we, as Americans, keep making excuses for the deaths of so many? How can we continue to perpetrate this notion that thoughts and prayers will ever be enough?
Something that is so unique about the gun debate—in comparison to similar divisive issues often discussed in American politics—is that definitive and effective solutions have been presented to the public numerous times. Studies have shown that the majority of Americans are in favor of expanding background checks. Developers have created guns that are harder to fire. Researchers have proven that buyback methods work. Time and time again we’ve been shown the solutions, and time and time again we ignore them.
It's similar to this concept I was taught when I was young: don't apologize for mistakes you're going to repeat, only apologize if you're willing to change things. We continue to offer our apologies in the form of "thoughts and prayers," yet fail to offer any evidence that things are ever going to change. In fact, under the current presidential administration, we continue to make it easier for people to get guns by rolling back regulations implemented by the Obama administration and holding a vote, this week, to potentially allow the silencing of guns.
When I was in middle school, my science teacher was required to outline the procedural response to an on-campus shooter. Similarly, I had to sit through an almost two hour seminar about preventing mass shootings during my calculus class last year. I was told to find objects in my class to use as weapons against the shooter. I was told to find cover. I was told to run away. The moment we began treating mass shootings like a natural disaster—something uncontrollable and inevitable—was the moment we officially gave up on ever solving this problem.
Have we really just become so jaded to the deaths of innocent Americans that we’ve given up? Is this just going to become another tragedy that gets lost in our seemingly endless cycle of tragedies? Maybe, but we still have a chance to change. Educate ourselves. Help those injured in the shooting. Be diligent.
Here are some things we can do now.
Donate to this GoFundMe that was created to raise money for the victims of the shooting.
If you're in the Southern Nevada area, find your local Red Cross and donate blood.
Donate to the National Compassion Fund which is currently raising money that will support victims and their families.
Donate to one of the charities we have listed on our Gun Safety page here.
Call your representatives and demand they seek legislative action against gun violence.
Read Nicholas Kristof's latest column for the New York Times about how policy changes could have tangible results in American gun culture and violence.
Watch this video Vox made describing the ways America's gun problem cannot be isolated to just include mass shootings, but suicides and homicides as well.
Scroll through this piece the New York Times publicized that illustrates the amount of shootings this country has endured in the past year and half. Realize that ZERO action has been taken by congress.
VOTE in any and all elections in your area and choose the candidate who has vocalized their support for sensible gun control measures in America. You can register to vote here.
If we don't act now, then when? If not us, then who?
We cannot forget. We cannot continue to be complacent, or next time, the blood is on our hands.