By Zainab Iqbal
Published: February 21st, 2018
Last week, a 19-year-old causally walked inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and murdered 17 innocent people with a gun. This is not the first time this has happened—and it won’t be the last.
On Nov. 5, a 26-year-old murdered 25 people and an unborn child inside a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, with a gun.
On Oct. 1, a 68-year-old murdered 58 people and injured about 500 at a concert in Las Vegas, with a gun.
On June 12, 2016, a 29-year-old went inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, and killed 49 people while injuring 50, with a gun.
On Dec. 2, 2015, a married couple went inside the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California and murdered 14 people while injuring 21, with a gun.
On June 17, 2015, a white supremacist murdered nine innocent people inside a church, with a gun.
And on Dec. 14, 2012, an innocent group of 20 children and six adults were killed in Sandy Hook Elementary School, with a gun.
Like many people, I was foolish enough to believe that seeing little kids shot dead would be the end of mass shooting in America; that perhaps, just maybe, lawmakers could come together and say, “We need to finally do something about guns.”
Despite what many pundits say, this is indeed a gun problem. Sure, mental illness is important and should be properly treated; but mental illness has become a placeholder.
“It’s not guns, it’s mental illness.”
The fact of the matter is that mental illness is a problem not unique to America. There are people with mental illnesses in Canada, in London, in Australia, and in China. But mass shootings? That is very much unique to America. And though it’s not hard to imagine why, it’s a problem politicians have been grappling with for years.
America has an obsession with guns—weapons that basically have no purpose but to kill. And nowhere else in this world does this obsession occur. Americans have gun shows. Americans walk into the streets in the South and flaunt their military-style weapons, as if they are a good thing. As if they actually have a use for them. Oh wait, they do—killing innocent people in schools.
The Second Amendment states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Well, the “right of the people to keep and bear Arms” results in children going to school to get an education and being shot dead in the process. But hey, it’s our right, so who cares about how many people it kills? Must I mention that this was four years after the Three-Fifths Compromise? If anyone needs a reminder, the Three-Fifths Compromise was when blacks weren’t counted as a whole person. It’s safe to say we’ve gotten rid of the law, so much that we had a black man become president of the US. So why are we still keeping guns?
“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
Yes, Tomi, with guns. If a person with a mental illness was so keen on going inside a church and killing someone, he could very well do it with a knife. Or a saw. Or perhaps, with stilettos. But they all do it with guns. A gun has the ultimate power to murder a large group of people in just under two minutes. It has the ability to shatter families. It has the ability to have a mother wait for her child to come out of school alive only to hear he’s coming out in a coffin.
After a mass shooting, we find out two things: the people who are dead and the people who lack basic human decency. A person like the 45th President of the US cares more about going on a date with the National Rifle Association (NRA) than controlling guns. Making sure guns don’t get in the hands of a 19-year-old, or perhaps a person with mental illness, should be the number one priority of every lawmaker in this country.
But it isn’t. Because unfortunately, there are innocent people being murdered by guns, but guns are not the problem. They are so not the problem.