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Gun Control: A Needed Conversation

Today, I want to have a conversation with you. But I warn whoever reads on, this conversation won’t be fun.

For those who know me, I’m the smirking smartalec with a joke. I’m also a realist trying desperately to be an optimist.

Growing up, I’ve spent my life trying to keep emotions out of my decisions. I try to live by logical thought.

But since Monday, I’ve found it hard to see or think of anything other than hatred.

On Monday morning, the world awoke to news of the shootings during the Route 91 Harvest Festival. 

Photo by Canva [1]

Photo by Canva

As of right now, 59 people are dead and over 500 people are injured due to one man’s actions. With over 20 weapons in a hotel room on the 32 floor of Mandalay Bay Hotel, one man fired assault weapons at thousands of unsuspecting people.

Before the Las Vegas police could get to him, the man turned the gun on himself. While the nation mourned those were injured and those who were killed, many people began saying this: “There’s nothing that we can do about situations like this,” and “How could something like this happen?”

I’d like to think of myself as a level-headed man but over the past two days, I’ve damn near been in tears. The tears shed were out of anguish and anger.

I learned from a young age to fight your battles with logic rather than anger. So, here I am, ready to fight for those who now cannot fend for themselves.

The idea to write this editorial came the moment I heard White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders comment on a question. It was a question regarding gun control.

“There’s a time and place for a political debate, but now is the time to unite as a country,” she said.

I disagree.

The foundation of an American life is based on the principles laid out by the Constitution. One of the most heated amendments happens to be the 2nd Amendment.

Being born and raised in Oklahoma, we know three things: Football first, God second and the right to bear arms forever and always.

A statement like, “We as red-blooded Americans get to have our own guns” gets thrown around more as the topic of gun violence becomes more prevalent of a problem in the country.

You might as well say “Well, Brandon, it says right there in the Constitution that we have the right to bear to arms. You can’t deny that.” To that, you are right but those who say this are only halfway accurate.

The Constitution also reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Written in 1787, the Constitution of our forefathers spokes to those who had experienced of  years being threatened by foreign government. The 2nd Amendment was made in order to protect a young country from those willing to risk everything to take it from those who fought and died for its creation.

The 2nd Amendment was not made for people to buy a M16 and use it on an unsuspecting crowd of people.

The 2nd Amendment was not meant to allow people to buy an arsenal of firepower that would rival a Mad Max movie.

The 2nd Amendment was not meant for the biggest, baddest gun to be sold to those with reason to own a weapon other than to say they own it in the first place. If your insecurity is so high that you feel the need to own such a weapon, you don’t need a gun, you need a therapist.

I could give you all the statistics the world has to offer but I doubt it would make a dent in the discussion. After all, has it done any good since this has been an issue?

I could tell you that, according to everytownresearch.org each day 93 Americans are killed by guns. Or nearly 325 million people in the United States own one or multiple guns. The website Vox reported that America has more deaths by guns every year than the other eight leading countries combined.

Having said this, I don’t think it’ll make a difference in the mindset of those set in their ways. It’s just the way it’s always been, right?

Just because something is a tradition, doesn’t mean it should be held as untouchable. In fact, things held in tradition should often be questioned more than others.

We, as Americans, always seem to slip this conversation until the next mass shooting takes place. Events like what happened in Vegas this week, the Pulse nightclub last summer, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook Elementary School have become part of our regular conversation.

And that’s the problem: the events, the mass shootings, have become a regular occurrence.

As a nation, it’s in crises like these that people must make a choice: support the norm, ignore it or fight back.

The current administration wants to avoid the problem. So- it’s up to the citizens of one of the greatest countries on Earth to stand for what’s right.

When the nation is faced with a tragedy such as this, the logical first step would be to make sure something like this never happens again. One might ask where are the regulations on firearms is and why haven’t the people in power done anything to protect their people.

If you’re anything like me, you probably were less than impressed by the results you found.

Tragedies will come and go leaving scars behind; however, they’re not deep enough to deter those in charge. By the definition of government, we elect those to make decisions for the people they represent while using their own judgment. If the world went by the definition of things, perhaps the world would be a cleaner place to live.

A Majority of the elected officials forget those who elected them and instead, focus their attention on their popularity and how they plan to get reelected.

Before anyone decides to bring out their political soapbox, the blame lies on both sides.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Politicians are a lot like diapers. They should be changed frequently, and for the same reasons.”

It’s funny how someone can hear the same arguments made every election cycle yet, when it comes to the time for action, people shirk the responsibility of others. I’ve experienced this more than my fair share from a young age.

A recurring issue runs throughout all of these problems: fear.

Some fear their gun rights are being taken away. Others fear their lives will be taken away by a gun fired by someone. There are some which fear the support they’ve received in their job will disappear if they do not support that which kills the people in their country.

There are those who dictate the future of our state who live in this fear. Records from opensecrets.org reported in 2015-2016 that Oklahoma Representatives and one senator have received almost $21,000 during the last campaign cycle from the National Rifle Association.

The Oklahoma Representatives include Tom Cole (R-OK), James Bridenstine(R-OK), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Frank Lucas (R-OK), Steven Russell (R-OK) and Senator Jim Lankford (R-OK).

Business Insider has reported the NRA has more lobbyist at Capitol Hill than any major organizations in the United States. In the same article, Business Insider reported  “the gun group has spent $3.2 million from January 1 to June 30 trying to advance its policy agenda.”

If this wasn’t enough, on February 28, President Donald Trump signed a bill into law rolling back an Obama-era regulation which made it harder for those with mental illnesses to purchase a gun.

In the wake of the Vegas destruction, the House of Representatives is poised to pass legislation for the use of gun silencers. Known as the Hearing Protection Act would eliminate restrictions on silencers and instead treat them like ever other firearm.

While doing research in how difficult it would be to purchase a firearm, my confusion reverted right back to anger.

Oklahoma only requires four things to purchase a gun: you must be 21 years old, you need to show a proof of residency, you need to pay for the gun in full and pass a federal background check.

This only applies to gun shops in the state. There are multiple ways in order to get a firearm with or without dealing with government restrictions. They include: a pawn shop which deals with the same government affiliations as a regular gun shop, buying it from friends or family, Internet sales which have limited government restrictions or at a gun show.

USA Today reported there are between 2,000 to 5,200 gun shows held in the United States each year.  In gun shows, no background check system has been put in place despite several attempts in Congress.

I’m not asking for people to give up hunting or recreational shooting. I’m not asking people to choose a political spectrum. I’m begging the American people to be proactive towards the problem that lies ahead instead of reactive in the moment and forgetful in the next.

Going back Huckabee Sanders, is it the right time to discuss gun control?

Yes. More than ever.

If Congress is too tied up in the NRA then do the American people a service and resign. We elect people to represent our interests. If your interests lie in the NRA alone, why do we elect you in the first place?

This is not a matter of partisan politics; this deals with morality.

Do not allow tunnel vision to let you shrug off this tragedy as a one time thing. If things continue the way they are without any sense of intervention, it could be you biting the bullet next.

Send your prayers to the families affected and then pray for courage to actually do something about it. I know gun control is a hot button issue but that doesn’t mean we should ignore it. Slavery was a hot button issue, alcohol is a hot button issue, civil rights is a hot button issue; what makes this different?

Nothing, nothing at all.