Apathy on gun violence is the GOP’s weapon of choice

Joshua Llyod, A&E Editor

     It happened again, and the scariest part is what comes afterwards: a shit-ton of nothing. A former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida shot up his old school on Feb. 14, leaving 17 people dead and thousands of survivors, friends and family members traumatized.         
We know what to expect now that mass shootings are commonplace. A wave of Twitter and Facebook sympathy pours in after the initial shock, and people forget about it by the time their own kids head to school the next day.    

     “My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting,” President Trump tweeted, just like so many other celebrities and political figures. “No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.”

     True enough, they shouldn’t, but there are plenty of reasons to worry. Nowhere else in the world does this happen on such a tremendous scale, and nowhere else in the world are lawmakers so apathetic about the consequences of inaction.

    As long as Trump and his team are in the National Rifle Association’s back pocket (and let’s face it, they always will be), nothing will change. Prayers and condolences are worthless if they don’t inspire people to make serious progress.

     The only real comfort Trump offered was essentially for gun owners. “We are committed to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental health,” he said at the White House after the incident. In other words: no one’s coming for your guns, and we’ll continue to look the other way whenever this terribly tragic stuff happens.      

     Three months ago, Devin Kelley used an AR-15 pattern Ruger AR-556 semi-auto to kill 26 people at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A month before that, Stephen Paddock used bump stock-equipped semi-automatics to murder 58 people at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas.        

     With the assault in Parkland, three of the ten deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history have happened in the past five months.

     Three glaring opportunities to make a decisive move on gun regulations. Three chances for the Republican Party, who controls the White House and both houses of Congress. Three epic failures. They will undoubtedly fail again.

     Instead, Congress points to “mental instability” as the real culprit whenever a gunman unloads on a crowd of concertgoers or students. If people snap and go off the deep end so frequently, why are we endangering everyone around them by making guns easier to get than mental health treatment?
Granted, Trump ordering a ban on “bump stocks,” accessories which increase the firing rates of semi-automatic rifles, is a welcome surprise. But it’s only a marginal step forward, and an absence of bump stocks won’t mean an absence of mass shootings.    

     There was almost a real step forward in 2013, shortly after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, when an assault weapons ban was making its way through Congress. The plan was to halt the “sale, transfer, manufacturing and importation” of customizable semi-automatic rifles. It was halted by a 40 to 60 vote.

      The ban’s primary target was the AR-15, commonly recognized as the civilian version of the military’s M16. It’s the gun Nikolas Cruz used to slaughter over a dozen people at Marjory Stoneman last week. Let’s not forget the incident at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, where Omar Mateen shot and killed 49 people in June 2016. A SIG Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle and a Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol were recovered from his body.

      Under what circumstances is anyone but a soldier or SWAT team going to need one of these things? So-called “gun enthusiasts” are kidding themselves if they think there’s a legitimate reason (hunting doesn’t count) for civilians to own an AR-15 or one of its many cousins. So is anyone who says it’s still “not the time” to talk about gun control. That’s you, “thoughts-and-prayers” politicians.
Shut up and take off your tin hats. The aliens aren’t coming, and neither is the zombie apocalypse.
The biggest threat is already here. It’s ignorance, and it’s obviously the Trump administration’s weapon of choice when it comes to dealing with gun violence.

Josh is a junior Spanish and Leadership/Public Advocacy Communications major. He is the Art and Entertainment Editor.