Terror Creeps from Hundreds of Miles to Ten Minutes Away

The need for debate is long gone


Photo by Sparky Mitra of The UCSD Guardian/ UCSD Guardian

Sparky Mitra, Opinion Editor

Decades have passed since the Columbine and Sandy Hook shootings occurred, yet these are tragedies that are still very much alive in the public eye. Yet, while the memories of previous tragedies fade, recent horrors take their place far too quickly. In fact, rather than seeing mass shootings as instances we can distance ourselves from, I feel as though the shootings are getting closer and closer to each of us. Columbine and Sandy Hook are not tragedies of the past. At least not until they stop being predictions for the future. The cause of mass shootings is not up for debate anymore. Sure, a mental health crisis can increase the numbers slightly. Maybe law-enforcement can help mitigate the amount of people killed per shooting. But the existence of these shootings, to the level at which they are occurring, is caused by guns. There is only room for debate what restrictions we should put on guns, not on whether there should be any restrictions at all.

Only two nights have passed since the shooting in Allen, Texas, 10 minutes from where a majority of my highschool classmates live and 45 minutes from where I went to school. Enough is enough and enough has been enough for a very long time. The right to bear arms and the right to live cannot be mutually exclusive. But that is exactly what they are right now. Many politicians from the U.S. Senator Ted Cruz to U.S. House Representative Keith Self (TX-3) have turned to thoughts and prayers as a solution. The latter even called for more prayer as the answer to Saturday’s shooting when he could instead actively change the laws on our books. Action seekers who want more than prayers were not so tactfully relegated by the congressmen to being godless individuals for simply not fitting his vision of a gun-wielding, unsafe country.

When fewer days have passed than mass shootings this year, we have to be willing to separate partisan talking points backed by monied lobby groups from relatively undebatable subjects like Americans’ inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. There are some issues that merit no partisanship. There are places where debate is necessary. But in the gun violence prevention space, this should only surround how far we want to take regulations on guns and gun ownership.

Checks and balances, and gridlock are not necessarily always terrible. Even someone as radically progressive as I am understands the need for time and space allowing for all constituents opinions to be heard. This is especially true when regulations concern businesses. I am someone who is thoroughly pro-business regulation and believes that money should be completely removed from politics. But, I also know that in the U.S. many constituents are hyper capitalist in their mindset and believe businesses have earned the right to curry favor with politicians. But, there’s a certain point where money and power stop granting you extra privileges. Especially when this privilege is to kill Americans. When gridlock supersedes actions that will make Americans safer, we need to have conversations about when gun companies and the National Rifle Association can stop buying votes to keep children and communities unsafe. 

Progressives, like myself, always see the military-industrial complex as a huge source of war and preventable atrocities worldwide. But in the U.S., we have our own military-industrial complexes to worry about: the firearms-industrial complex.

The questions we can ask are endless; Should we stop regulations at extended background checks? Should we ban assault weapons and semi automatic weapons? How far should we raise the age limit on gun ownership? Should we have extensive licensing timelines for guns? How long should a waiting period be between when you purchase a gun and when you receive the gun? How much are conservatives doing to address the mental health issues that they constantly bring up as the main cause of gun violence?

The last question has an answer none of us wants to hear because it is simply a question to deflect at times of tragedy like today — two days after Allen, Texas. The Republican House majority continues to shoot down mental health legislation. Luckily, the Republican-held Texan state legislature has only finally allowed a gun violence prevention bill to leave committee for a vote.

As of now, I still don’t know if any of my friends were hurt in the shooting on Saturday. But this is a worry that I, nor any other person should have to grapple with. 

To those who debate to stall progress: Stop letting our hometowns become burial grounds and memorial sites.