In the days after a mass shooting, especially after this week’s shooting in Las Vegas, Twitter and Facebook feeds across America are clogged by impassioned posts condemning the senseless act of violence.
I used to find this heartening. It would make me believe the tides were turning and people were realizing we did not have to surrender and accept the 30,000 deaths a year caused by gun violence. But after seeing the same pattern shooting after shooting, I realized this was not the case. For one week after a mass shooting, revolution is in the air. Congressmen and woman do sit-in protests in the chambers, Chris Murphy becomes a regular on MSNBC and Chuck Schumer rolls out a bill. But as quickly as America’s passion arises, it vanishes.
Gun regulation bills are voted down, and America is no longer engaged enough to give our representatives the momentum they need. Twitter shifts from being mostly gun violence statistics back to being mostly memes. America moves on.
But when the next shooting happens, indignation erupts from the same people who forgot about the fight. We act dumbfounded, and we blame Congress for not coming to their senses and acting.It’s time for us as individuals to quit absolving ourselves of responsibility on this issue by blaming institutions and figureheads. How can we accuse Congress of inaction, when we ourselves are not willing to do more than Tweet?
Congress will not loosen the NRA’s chokehold by passing gun regulations until their jobs are threatened. And when upwards of 90% of Americans already support universal background checks, there is no reason that their jobs should not be threatened already; we have the manpower, we merely need a shift in mindset. We decide when gun regulations pass, not any one representative. When we average citizens decide to take it upon ourselves to call our representatives about legislation, donate our time and money to organizations such the States United to Prevent Gun Violence, Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown, and Moms Demand Action, progress will be made. Only then will we be better than the Congress that we criticize.
And it can start today. Both The Hearing Protection Act (which would deregulate silencers) and The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (which would essentially reduce each state’s gun regulations to that of the lowest common denominator) have more than one hundred co-sponsors, and will likely get a vote this year. Call your representative now, and tell them to vote NO.