In response to the Umpqua Community College shootings in Oregon, politicians are debating gun control legislation—again.
Seemingly every time gun violence occurs in America, politicians buckle-down and debate about gun control. For a few weeks, one side of the debate urges for stricter gun regulations while another side cites their right to bear arms. Every time this happens, we believe it’s finally the chance to make change. Then the debate blows over until gun violence occurs again.
This cycle of debate and inaction has gone on for a long time. Gun violence—especially gun violence in schools—evokes emotion from us as a country. We believe each new, gruesome act of violence will motivate us to solve our problems. Instead, we get stuck in the cycle.
This cycle occurs because our country—and government—is so divided on how to react. It is difficult to pass significant gun control legislation when many Americans perceive the Second Amendment as an obstacle to any measure of gun regulation—and when the National Rifle Association holds a lot of power over members of the United States Congress. The argument for addressing mental illness as a cause of gun violence is usually met with debate as well.
We will not be able to end gun violence if we continue with this cycle of inaction. We won’t know for sure if strict gun control is the best solution or if addressing mental illness is the best solution—but we won’t know until we try something. The powers that be in America do not really enjoy compromising with each other, but our disagreements cannot just lead to stagnation while students across the country continue to be terrified to go to school.
It is crucial to address gun violence democratically. But we’ve heard each side of the debate many times already. Politicians need to speak less about their stance on the issue and actually do more about it. So far it seems—in the aftermath of the Oregon shooting—we have fallen into the cycle again.
With increased anonymous threats to schools and consequent fear from students, faculty and parents, we are running out of time to take action before mass gun violence at a school occurs again.