We Must Do Something About Gun Control Right F*cking Now

by Sa'iyda Shabazz

Yesterday, a man armed with an assault rifle entered a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado and killed 10 people. As of right now, no one knows his motive, but does it really matter? No, it doesn’t. There is nothing in the world that could ever justify a man going to a grocery store to open fire. We cannot continue to allow mass shootings like this to happen in this country. It is beyond time to finally have the people in charge get real about gun control, because enough is enough. How many more people have to die before they take action?

One of the silver linings to COVID and restrictions on public activities is that shit like this wasn’t happening. Think about it: How many mass shootings did we hear about in 2020? Exactly. And that’s because no one was out and about. But now that things are beginning to reopen and we have a new administration in the White House, gun control needs to be a big conversation. Because it’s clear that it is yet again going to be a big issue, and while the pandemic is still on the forefront of everyone’s minds, they also need to get serious about gun control, because it’s coming back, and fast.

According to a CNN report, this is the seventh mass shooting since March 16th. SEVEN. Thankfully, few of the most recent shootings had multiple deaths. That being said, there were at least six mass shootings this year with four or more deaths, including Atlanta and Denver. If that isn’t enough of a reason to talk seriously about gun control, I don’t know what is. The government needs to act now. Because summer is coming, and people are getting vaccinated. That means there’s going to be more people out in the world who can become casualties to men with access to assault weapons. And if 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we don’t have to accept this way of life as normal.

Ted Cruz announced today in a committee meeting on gun control that he plans on reintroducing legislation from 2013 for stronger background checks. This legislation would target “violent criminals,” felons, fugitives and “those with serious mental disease to stop them from getting firearms to put them in prison, when they try to illegally buy guns.” But he still wants “law abiding citizens” to have access to firearms. “If you want to stop these murders, go after the murders,” he said. Democrats rightfully held the 2013 legislation up in a filibuster, causing it to not pass. Because they understand that what Cruz is proposing doesn’t actually get to the heart of the problem.

Many of the men committing these mass murders are not men with a history of violence. If you pull up the name of the Boulder shooter, you’re not going to get a mile long rap sheet. As of right now, we know that he’s had two previous encounters with police. One was for third-degree assault, which is a misdemeanor, and one was for criminal mischief. But it’s unclear if he was ever convicted of a crime. So if he’s never been convicted of a crime, he wouldn’t be in the system. And if he’s not in the system, how could he be prohibited from buying a gun under Cruz’s gun control legislation? He most likely wouldn’t be.

Mental health issues often get cited as a reason for men committing mass murders. But how many of them actually have a history of real, legitimate diagnosed mental illness? And more importantly, how do we know a person is living with mental illness? If you’re going to use the mental illness argument as a part of the gun control debate, then how can you ethically find out a person’s medical history? Because a person’s medical history is protected. If Cruz wants to use mental illness as a way to keep guns out of the wrong hands, how exactly does he propose we go about that?

Not only that, but any measures taken would only further stigmatize mental illness, and do more harm than good. Because the truth is, the vast, vast majority of folks who battle mental illness do no go around committing mass shootings. Equating the two is dangerous and shames those who live with and battle mental illness.

And what about fugitives getting access to weapons? If you’re on the run from the law, chances are you’re not going to go the legal route to procuring a gun. You’re not going to walk into a gun store and admit that you’ve committed a crime recently. Because chances are, you’re going to end up back in jail. I’ve watched enough movies to know how this works. So how could a Senator be that dense? That’s a rhetorical question: I know Ted Cruz is a total moron.

The shooter in the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Florida was on the FBI watchlist before the shooting. And he still was able to have access to get an AR-15. So what is the point of him being on a watchlist if he was still able to have access to military grade weapons?

Why should civilians have access to military grade weapons in the first place? In what instance would a person ever need to “defend” themselves with such a weapon? And because of the sheer size of an AR-15, you’re not going to just casually carry it around. Anyone who is in the possession of such a weapon has the intent to kill. Joe Schmo off the street shouldn’t be able to walk into a gun shop and say, “I’d like your finest AR-15 style machine gun, please.” There is no reason a gun like that should be in the hands of anyone, let alone a civilian. Thinking about it more deeply, why does the military need such a gun? What point does it serve to be able to kill upwards of 10 people at a time?

The most infuriating part of the gun control debate is access. Regular people have this massive fear of all their guns being taken away. And while I am firmly team no guns at all, right now even just removing access to the most dangerous ones would be ideal. The problem is just who can have access to purchasing guns. It’s also what kind of guns they’re able to purchase. Military style weapons have no business being in the hands of anyone except military professionals in the line of duty. Civilians never ever have a legitimate need for something that can do that much damage.

Currently gun reform passed by the House does have a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines. During a speech on the Boulder shooting, President Biden called on the Senate to get it together and pass the legislation. “This is not — it should not be — a partisan issue. This is an American issue,” he said. “It will save lives, American lives. We have to act.” This legislation also calls for closing loopholes on background checks, but it’s hard to know how the votes will go with an evenly split Senate. Still, it’s clear that action needs to be taken sooner rather than later if we want to see anything truly happen.

In a press conference today, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the White House is looking into taking executive actions on gun control.

“We are certainly considering a range of levers, including working through legislation, including executive actions to address, obviously, you know, not just gun safety measures but violence in communities, so that has been under discussion and will continue to be under discussion,” Psaki told reporters while aboard Air Force One.

While it is not the most ideal way to achieve gun control, at this point, it might be Biden’s best bet to get anything done. We can’t lose more lives because no one wants to tell men they can’t have their precious guns anymore.