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Commentary: We need gun control

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Layla Abbas, Editor in Chief

Layla Abbas, Editor in Chief

The United States has morphed into a place of constant fear, where the next place for a mass shooting could be anywhere; bullet-proof backpacks are now on back to school shelves, active shooter drills at school and in workplaces are standard, and educators are learning how to treat gunshot wounds. 

We are living in a state of trepidation, and yet minimal action is being done to prevent the next mass shooting from taking place. 

The horrific thought of being involved in a mass shooting seems more possible than ever before as senseless mass shootings occur too often. 

The world awoke to another headline of a mass shooting in Odessa, Texas which claimed eight lives on Aug. 31, marking the 38th shooting with three or more fatalities by firearms in 2019 alone. 

These violent acts that rob innocent people from living may be unpredictable in time, but simply banning assault rifles will limit more tragedies from occurring. With more than a thousand lives lost to mass shooting violence since the first mass shooting in Texas in 1966, we are still waiting for action.

Earlier this month, another senseless mass shooter in Dayton, Ohio claimed nine lives, and in El Paso, Texas, a shooter claimed 22 lives — bringing the total death count by mass shootings in August alone to 53.

The list goes on in excruciating length; in May, a shooter claimed 12 lives in Virginia Beach; in February, a shooter claimed five in Aurora; on Nov. 7, 2018 a shooter claimed 12 in Thousand Oaks. 

Gilroy, 3; Las Vegas, 58; St. Louis County, 5; White Swan, 5; Sebring, 5; Pittsburgh, 11.

A total of 1,207 lives have been lost to gun violence according to the Gun Violence Archive. 

There is a mass shooting – defined as four or more people shot in one incident by the Gun Violence Archive, not including the shooter – nine out of every 10 days on average.

Assault weapons and semi-automatic handguns remain the most common type of firearm used in these shootings, yet the average person can purchase one of these weapons as easily as making a trip to the store. 

A month after the El Paso shooting in a Walmart that left 20 dead, Walmart announced it will stop selling handgun and short-barrel rifle ammunition, while requesting that customers not openly carry firearms in its stores, according to the Associated Press. 

Starbucks, Target, Wendy’s and Kroger have also asked customers not to openly carry guns when visiting their stores, according to the Associated Press. 

This action from Walmart marks a strong stance against firearms but majority of firearms sales come from thousands of unaffiliated gun shops or gun shows, not big retail chains.

Gun and ammunition stores had a revenue of about $11 billion, according to IBIS World in a 2018 Report.

Although Walmart’s announcement is a productive step that will urge other corporations to follow, legislation from Congress regarding gun safety is a must.

Controlling gun and ammunition stores would have a significant impact in limiting the amount of deaths by active shooters.

We are accepting a new reality living in the U.S.. If you are in public, you are subject to being involved in a mass shooting and it is a terrifying and unnerving thought.

It is proven that gun violence has increased over the last five years.

The FBI defines an active shooter as one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area. 

The FBI designated 27 shootings in 2018 as active shooter incidents, 30 in 2017, and 20 in 2016, 2015 and 2014. And 2019 is on track to surpass the previous years.

A gun no longer signifies a patriotic duty as an American to own one. A gun is not a power identity symbol or display of dominance. The people handling these guns are deliberately taking a mass amount of people’s lives away, and regulation needs to be enforced sooner rather than later. 

With the 2020 election looming, and acts of gun violence skyrocketing, we need to elect those who are pushing for more gun safety measures.

The longer we wait to make a change, the longer we will continue to live in uncertainty of whether we will be part of the next mass shooting in America.

Layla Abbas, a senior journalism major, is editor in chief for the Campus Times. She can be reached by email at layla.abbas@laverne.edu or on Twitter @AbbasLayla.

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