What Does Kerra Say?: Let's get real about gun violence

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: EURONEWS
A pair of cowboy boots lay outside of the Las Vegas venue after a shooter carrying a semi-automatic weapon shot into a crowd of 22,000 people, killing 58 and injuring over 500.

I'm going to do it. I'm going to talk about guns.

I was strolling around a Canadian Tire last week in Edmonton when I saw what looked like a giant safe. I had never seen anything like it before, and so obviously I proceeded to make a non-funny joke about how I'm not important enough to own anything that needs to go in a safe.

My partner, bless his heart, let me go on my little rant before telling me point blank, “That's a gun safe.”

I looked back at him in shock. Maybe I hadn't spent enough time in Canadian Tires back in Ontario, but I had really never seen anything like it before. And after just spending one week in Alberta I'd already seen more gun shops than I've seen in my entire life.

I'll never understand the fascination people have towards guns or hunting, but I also acknowledge that most people are not into the same things that I am, so I can at least respect their passion.

What I have a hard time respecting, though, is the vigorous defending of loose gun laws.

In Canada, this does not seem like that big of a deal. I remember hearing from my aunt about how her husband was applying for a gun license in Ontario. After hearing about all of the safety precautions put in place to not only make sure he was fit to own a gun (he wanted a license to hunt in the area) she told me that the government also contacted her in order to make sure she was aware that her partner was looking to purchase a gun.

I was, admittedly, impressed. I've never held a gun in my life, and the only “gun” I've ever seen was a pellet gun. I was proud of my government for ensuring the safety of its citizens with something so important.

(My uncle got his gun, and I see posts of the animals he hunts and the meals he turns them into that he and my aunt both enjoy).

After the recent attack in Las Vegas, gun control has become a top priority for many people in the U.S. The horrific tragedy has sparked passion in many who are sick and tired of hearing about mass shootings and losing loved ones to senseless tragedies.

According to a CNN news story, a mass shooting occurs when four or more people are killed in one attack. By that definition, as of Oct. 3, 2017, there have been 273 mass shootings in the U.S. alone, or 7.5 mass shootings per week.

But when you look at gun violence statistics in America, mass shootings are not even the largest percentage of gun deaths. According to Everytown, a gun violence prevention website set up after the mass shooting that killed children in Newtown in 2012, 93 Americans are killed with guns everyday, making the gun homicide rate 25 times higher than that of other developed countries. On top of that, for every person killed by a gun, two more people are injured.

Did those statistics blow your mind? They definitely shocked me. But what shocks me more is the fact that there seems to be no limit on what American politicians will allow to happen in their country before action is taken to prevent these tragedies from happening in the first place.

And as we saw with the recent attack in Edmonton, you don't need a gun to hurt people. I was recently driving around Edmonton when a friend pointed out the exact spot where the attack occurred just a few days prior. I had a small moment where I reflected on what happened there, the fear those who were attacked must have felt, the doubt in safety that the people who live nearby must still be dealing with. I can't imagine having that feeling throughout my country, not feeling safe anywhere.

So when I read that the National Rifle Association (NRA) said in a statement that “nothing could have been done to prevent this tragedy”, in regards to the shooting in Las Vegas, I find myself disagreeing. Sure, we may never be able to prevent random acts of violence; that is the nature of our world. Humans are unpredictable, and sometimes are horrifically violent towards others for no apparent reason.

But what could have been prevented, had the U.S. had stricter gun laws that would have prevented the shooter from legally obtaining a semi-automatic rifle (a gun that is illegal for civilians in Canada) as well as the “bump stock” attachment that turned an already deadly weapon into a rapid-firing machine gun, is the number of people who were killed or injured. I do not know the legal status of the other 19 weapons that were found in his hotel room, but the fact that he purchased the one weapon that caused so much devastation legally simply baffles me.

I do not know what it will take for the U.S. government to realize that easy access to guns causes high rates of death by gun violence. Nothing changed after the Orlando nightclub shooting that killed 50, nothing happened after the Sandy Hook shooting that killed 28, including 20 children between the ages of six and seven, and it appears like nothing will happen after Las Vegas. Hopefully I am wrong, but as history shows the U.S. will continue to do nothing, and innocent lives will suffer because of it.

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.