Sutherland Springs is a rural town in Texas most people have probably never heard of until Sunday, Nov. 5, as Devin Patrick Kelley opened fire inside a Baptist church, killing 26 people. Instead of a quiet small town, it is now the site of one of the top-five mass shootings in modern American history, according to ABC.
A little over a month ago, 35 days to be exact, Stephen Paddock opened fire on a crowd of people enjoying a country musical festival in Las Vegas. 58 innocent people were killed. It was declared, according to CBS, to be the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history since the Pulse Nightclub shooting, which only happened a little over a year ago.
These mass shootings in our country are happening way too frequently. We should’ve put our foot down years ago, yet here we are again. It’s only been a month since Vegas and suddenly, we find ourselves mourning more people who have fallen victim to another automatic assault weapon.
According to the Washington Post, the gunman was identified as Devin Patrick Kelley, a 26-year-old, former U.S Air Force airman. The shooting, as of now, seems to be domestically motivated, being that he targeted a family member who was in the church. This isn’t the first time Kelley’s been violent. The Washington Post reported that Kelley has had past violent issues. This includes domestic abuse toward his wife and child, which lead him to spend a year in military prison. Along with that, Kelley was also charged on the account of animal cruelty. His extensive criminal record resulted in a dishonorable discharge from the military for conduct.
Yet, he was still able to purchase a gun.
No matter what people label these actions as, terrorism, mental illness or hatred, the person that’s responsible for this and any other perpetrators from past countless massacres clearly should have never been allowed to get their hands on a weapon of any sort in the first place.
These are people that we can’t always watch, but should have some sort of barrier to prevent them from having access to firearms. Whether the acquisition of these weapons was legal or not, our country should have some sort of screening to prevent weapons from getting into the wrong hands.
In 1996, when Martin Bryant, a 28-year-old man from Australia opened fire on a crowd, killing 35 people, making it the worst mass shooting in Australian history, the country did something.
According to the Atlantic, after Australia cracked down on gun ownership, the number of mass shootings significantly decreased. There are still people who own guns in that country and it’s still possible to own one, but the key fact is that mass acts of gun violence have notably decreased.
You won’t be able to prevent everything. It’s absolutely impossible to prevent every act of mass violence. Sometimes these awful tragedies happen and there’s nothing we can do about it. But with something like gun violence, there is something we could try to do. We could crack down and gain better control. Not full control, but at least something.
I understand it’s our constitutional right to bear arms. There are responsible people who own guns and know the proper precautions. But having gun control doesn’t mean your guns will be taken away or that you won’t ever be able to buy a gun again. It just means decreasing the acquisition of guns, especially those that are being purchased illegally or being purchased without the proper background screening.
As an American citizen, just like many around me, I’m angry, upset, tired and distraught. Upset by our phones blaring with the notifications of another mass shooting, tired of our social media feeds being clogged with what our relatives and friends have to say, angered that it seems each day something terrible happens and there seems to be no change. It’s growing to a point of desensitization — it’s becoming a common part of our culture to experience a gun massacre every year.
It’s time to put our differences aside about this because we’re all hurting. In the end, we’re all disturbed by these senseless acts and we’re terrified, terrified that it’ll happen to us or someone we love.
Finally, this is a plea, America, to find a solution. It may be difficult and it may never achieve its full potential, but something, anything, needs to be done to at least control the weapons in this country. If we’re going to start somewhere, even the slightest bit, it has to be with weapons; this way we can at least reduce those numbers so more people feel safe. So less people die. So, as a country, we can heal and grow strong. It’s time, America. Enough is enough.