Editorial: Demand the change you want

Gun violence will not end itself

By The Beacon | November 15, 2017 8:14pm
Vigil in support of the victims of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, Wellington, New Zealand. Photo from Wikimedia Commons by Ola Thorsen.

It’s easy to feel hopeless when you hear about the shootings in the U.S. And it’s even easier to feel unaffected when you’re far away from where a shooting has occurred. When the people who were shot weren’t your children, your best friends, your classmates

A shooting could happen anywhere at any time. Your workplace. Your school. Your place of worship. At the concert of your favorite singer. In the movie theater. And you never think it will happen to you or someone you know until it does. 

Even if you personally haven’t lost someone to a shooting, isn’t it enough to know someone else has? To recognize that lives were cut short, not because of destiny or fate, but simply because some people were at the wrong place at the wrong time? 

How many more shootings have to occur before we do something to stop them? How many more people have to be injured or killed by gun violence before enough is enough? 

What happened in Las Vegas, in San Antonio, in Roseburg (the list goes on) isn’t normal. A new shooting happened just in the time we've been writing this editorial. We had to add another hyperlink to the list - this time to an elementary school. What kind of world are we living in? When we don’t act, we normalize shootings. The problem isn’t going to go away if we plug our ears and close our eyes to gun violence. It’s going to continue. It may even amplify. 

We can’t tweet or pray the problem away. Real change requires real action. 

Maybe we need to ban semi-automatic weapons. Maybe the problem lies with how easy it is to purchase a gun (easier than buying a puppy). -Maybe the problem is the current lack of availability of mental health treatment for people who have an urge to harm themselves or others. Or perhaps it’s a history of domestic violence that goes ignored. We’re not going to claim we have the perfect solution to stop mass shootings. 

Instead, we’re pointing out that there are many ways our laws could change to create a safer environment for everyone. But if we want to see change, we have to bring it about ourselves. We can’t rely on our elected officials to do it for us. We have to demand change from our politicians and from our government.

Call, email or write to your representatives (you can look up representatives here and senators here). Our local representative is Earl Blumenauer. Oregon’s senators are Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden. Oregon’s governor is Kate Brown.  Don’t let them forget their constituents care about ending gun violence. 

If you’re motivated to end gun violence, donate to organizations like Everytown (an organization advocating for “common-sense” gun control measures) if you can afford to give a few dollars to the cause. Ask your friends and family to do the same. Create a petition and gather signatures. Do something.

The next shooting will happen. It might have already happened by the time this is published. We can’t sit back and be appalled while doing nothing. This is a pressing problem and our participation is vital to fixing it.