By Samuel Timothy Marriott
This past Valentine’s Day, 17 people were shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. But don’t panic! Now is not the time for politics!
Shame on us for wanting change. We need to “respect the families involved” by not doing anything about it. We need to “think”. Right now we need to step back, “take a breath and collect the facts,” says Paul Ryan, a member of the GOP party. That was his response when asked what changes he would implement regarding gun control, and how the government will ensure that a tragedy like this will never happen again. We send our “thoughts and prayers”.
We can approach this problem in many different ways, whether it be banning production of assault rifle bullets banning the production of assault rifles all together, or even something as simple as installing metal detectors in schools. But stepping back and waiting for the angry mob to die down is a deceptive path. Members of the GOP are trying to distract the public by taking advantage of religion and tapping into the public’s “soft side”. They are also blaming the problem on mental health, effectively labelling the issue as a lost cause.
Mr. Ryan is not the only politician indifferent to the death of schoolchildren. Marco Rubio, another politician from the GOP party, is also against negotiating a solution. He often takes to Twitter in attempts to sway the public to his side.
Recently, he shared an article from New York Times saying that we are “too quick to reject the other’s views”. He commented that we should “believe deeply [in] an issue yet hear out [the] other side”. Although he never explicitly states which political view we should “hear out”, a quick look at his surrounding tweets reveals the context. Rubio is hinting and nudging the public to concede to his point of view on gun control. A tweet from February 19th, 2018: “Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your own people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. Lv 18:19.” We wouldn’t disagree with God, would we? Real change needs to be implemented, not “thoughts and prayers”.
Avoiding gun control, many Republicans use the phrase: “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people”. This references the popular (yet fictitious) belief that mental health problems are the motive for murder. They’re just crazy. They can’t help it, and neither can we. They will kill no matter what.
It was October 1, 2017 when shooter Stephen Paddock fired over 1,000 bullets into a crowd of party goers on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada. Overlooking the Route 91 Harvest music festival from his complimentary suite in the Mandalay Bay hotel, he killed 58 and injured over 851 people. He was a “high-stakes gambler” and a heavy drinker, but not mentally ill. Paddock checked in on September 25th. During his 6 days at the hotel, Paddock reportedly spoke to Mandalay Bay employees over ten times. The spokesperson for MGM Resorts International disclosed that every single interaction was “normal in nature”.
This isn’t a one-off. In the book “Gun Violence and Mental Illness” published by the American Psychiatric Association in 2016, the authors claim that “[mass] shootings by people with serious mental illness represent less than 1% of all yearly gun-related homicides.” They also report that a mere 3% of all violent crimes are committed by people with serious mental illnesses.
Yet Republican politicians are still using mental health as an excuse to sidestep gun control and fend off the “angry progressives”. These people are crazy. We can’t do anything about it. “Mental health is often a big problem underlying these tragedies,” says House Speaker Paul Ryan, referring to the Florida shooting. So the solution is to give up? Throw our arms in the air and say “whelp!”?
This epidemic can only stop through real change, not shushing the crowd. No longer can we give up on trying because of the “mentally ill”. Install metal detectors. Improve security.
Condolences do not stop bullets.
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- “Walk-Through Metal Detectors for Personnel.” Ncjrs.gov, U.S. Department of Justice.