The months of June and July were horrific for Americans. On June 12, 2016 Omar Mateen gunned down 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL. Omar, who allegedly pledged allegiance to the terrorist group—ISIS, was interviewed by the FBI in 2013. Despite Omar having been interviewed by the FBI in 2013, he managed to legally gain possession of a firearm. As a result of the devastating attack, Representative John Lewis along with Representative John Larson led a staged sit-in on the House floor. Joined by dozens of House Democrats, they protested against the GOP leadership’s lack of cooperation on allowing a vote on a gun control measure. The Orlando massacre was just one of many terrible incidents over the course of a few months. It is clearly evident that gun violence is a major issue in our country, so what’s keeping our government officials from cracking down on it? Moreover, why is it so easy for mentally-ill and/or terrorist-affiliated individuals to obtain firearms? President Obama addressed his thoughts on America’s gun issue post an interview and town hall meeting in Elkhart, Indiana. The President was asked a question by a proud gun-owner who, among many other things, said “Why do you and Hillary want to control and restrict and limit gun manufacturers, gun owners and responsible use of guns and ammunition to the rest of us, the good guys, instead of holding the bad guys accountable for their actions?” President Obama responded by stating that the notion that he or Hillary are hell-bent on taking away folks’ guns is just not true. The President suggested that we (America) establish commonsense gun laws so that it isn’t so easy for the “bad guys” to obtain firearms. I have to say that I agree with our President 100%. I believe that we (Democrats and Republicans) can intelligently reach a medium towards addressing gun violence in America without comprising the 2nd Amendment. How many more innocent people have to die before we seriously address this issue? We must also not be ignorant to the fact that obtaining a gun legally in America is just as easy to obtain illegally. We not only need to crack down on the flawed processes by which troubled individuals can obtain firearms legally, but we must also crack down on the millions of firearms that are illegally being sold on the Black Market each and every day. Here are some practical things that you can do as a concerned citizen to help combat gun violence in America: 1. Vote! You have the power to elect officials who are just as concerned about gun violence as you are. Exercise that power. 2. Support federal policy changes, and stay informed. 3. Write letters to your officials. Contrary to popular belief, letters are still significant. Make your voice heard! 4. Finally, spread love. With all the hate in the world, what we need more than ever is love.
Jennifer M. Joseph