Thanks for your Thoughts and Prayers, Now Can We Please Discuss Gun Reform?

Feb 18, 2018

Words by Alexander Kamczyc

Ihave a challenge for you: Go on to Google and look up “Thoughts and Prayers,” and count how many times there’s a news headline that says: “White House offers thoughts and prayers,” “Trump offers condolences,” “Trump gives thoughts and prayers” or any other variation of a Republican in a high-ranking office sending nothing but their condolences to victims of a tragedy.

Each new headline that has some version of the above equals one point, with double points if you see anything from the National Rifle Association (NRA for short). If you find anything about Trump or any other Republican offering a comprehensive bill reforming our current gun laws, then you win.

Your prize is a brand-new bulletproof vest.

The only problem is that you won’t find anything like that in the headlines because it seems like Republicans, especially in the White House, don’t want to admit the U.S. has a gun problem.

You would think with tragedies like the Las Vegas shooting where 59 people were murdered and over 850 others were injured would have been enough for someone to come up with something to stop these killings. It’s marked as the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, something that a lot of publications have noted. Acknowledging that this is an issue isn’t enough. Shocking statistics aren’t shocking anymore.

Even before the tragedy in Las Vegas, there were already six other mass shootings that week. In a post published by the Guardian, statistics show that on average, every nine out of 10 days there is a mass shooting.

According to Heeding God’s Call, a faith-based organization dedicated to ending gun violence in America, 30,000 people are killed because of violence with a firearm every year. On top of that, more than 30 people are murdered by a firearm daily. Homicide is the second-leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 24 years old.

We also have the highest number of guns in the world. According to Vox, there is an estimated 88.8 guns per 100 people in the U.S. Vox also points out that a study conducted by the American Journal of Public Health shows that a 1 percent increase in gun ownership correlates to a .09 percent increase in gun-related violence. So the theory that Trump and a lot of Republicans are pushing that if the victims had guns, these deaths wouldn’t have happened is not true.

Historically, we’ve had 90 mass shootings since 1982, based on research by Mother Jones, a liberal publication dedicated to investigative journalism. That was published in 2012; the numbers have changed by now.

For those lucky enough to not find yourself between the crosshairs of a gun, you’re still not free from this issue. In fact, taxpayers have to pay close to half of the lifetime medical costs of gunshot injuries. Statistically, that’s $1.1 billion in taxes a year.

Let that sink in.

The worst part of this all, however, is that this problem is not going away. It’s only getting worse. Based off of data collected by the BBC, the three deadliest mass shootings have all happened within 10 years of each other.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”

You can almost hear it through your monitors, the rallying call for lawmakers who want you to think they care. That is until they go and push immigration reform that will remove protections to nearly 800,000 people living in America or introduce questionable new ideas like a food box for people living on food stamps. Quite frankly, it seems hypocritical.

There are things Republicans can do to not only protect the rights of people who want to have guns while also protecting the people who want to stay as far away from them as possible. Things like requiring private sellers to run background checks on buyers before they give them a weapon or closing the gun show loophole. They could also prevent people on the no-fly list from buying weapons, or even create standard gun ownership laws across the country so that everyone must follow one uniform law. We could also create laws that prevent people with things like mental health issues that are harmful to themselves and others from getting guns … a right we actually gave back to them last year.

It’s not like things like this haven’t happened in the past for other situations like this either. In 1995, the Oklahoma City bomber made a bomb using a specific type of fertilizer and used it to kill 168 people. We now have harsh restrictions on the purchase of that specific fertilizer. In 2001, a man attempted to blow up a plane using a bomb found in his shoe. Since then it is required to remove your shoes to go through security before boarding a plane. So change as a result of a great tragedy is possible.

There won’t be a definitive answer to this issue and some people are right to believe that. None of the ideas proposed above are simple or quick fixes to the problem, but this conversation deserves more than people flinging feces at each other over Twitter. Two-hundred-eighty characters is not enough to adequately express an opinion on such a heavy discussion like this. Lest we forget the dreaded Facebook rants that litter our social media landscape during trying times like these.

We need this seemingly one-sided argument to evolve in Washington. Republicans need to start looking at the statistics and begin asking questions that should’ve been asked when the Orlando nightclub shooting happened, or when Sandy Hook happened. Hell, they should’ve been asking these questions when Columbine happened. At the very least, this conversation should have been started way back when.

It would make more sense than ever to bring gun reform back to the table of discussion. Based on data collected by Gallup, an organization that uses analytics to help people better understand the issues of today, people are generally not happy with the current gun laws in America. They want stricter reform.

If Republican lawmakers don’t want to even start talking about gun reform in America, then you should be able to know which of them (and how many) are taking contributions from the NRA. Which is an unsettling amount of them.

I don’t think we should take away the rights that a lot of us hold near and dear. I’m not even asking for immediate action to be taken. However, I do wish that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle could come together and start an open discussion on gun laws in America.

There’s a saying that I heard recently that I think applies to topics like this. It goes:

“You are entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts,” by former New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

Until we can come together and contribute more than just thoughts and prayers every time something like this happens in America, the problem won’t stop.

And that’s just my opinion.