Gun laws: no two words have sparked as much recent widespread controversy in the United States (except for maybe Donald Trump). With no shortage of activists speaking out in its favor, the movement for gun control has picked up pace despite those who staunchly defend their Second Amendment rights. Over the years, America has been home to countless massacres and lethal shootings, so it’s no surprise that firearms remain a key issue in the upcoming elections, with Hillary supporting the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Trump standing by his gun possession rights. This is only magnified due to the fact that support for gun control has spiked after the shocking, devastating murder of singer Christina Grimmie in Orlando, Florida.
The 22-year-old New Jersey native, best known for placing third on the sixth season of the Voice, was shot three times at a concert on Friday, June 10, 2016. Upon hearing the news, fans, friends and others in the entertainment industry immediately responded with an outpouring of love for the recording artist via social media. Many expressed disbelief that such a young, wildly talented and kind individual had passed so unexpectedly, and it was clear that this young woman had inspired many with her powerful voice and luminous personality. At a post-concert meet and greet, she reportedly greeted killer Kevin Loibl with open arms, unaware that he was not an ordinary fan and was armed with a hunting knife and two handguns intended to take her life. After opening fire on her, he was tackled by her brother Mark and subsequently killed himself with the same gun that ended Grimmie’s life.
Understandably, interspersed amongst the notes of grief and love posted in the wake of Grimmie’s death are messages preaching the importance of firearm control. Notably, “True Colors” singer Kesha reiterated the importance of decisive action, writing, “I’m shocked and horrified. And angry. How many times are we as a nation going to read a horrific story like this, where someone uses a gun to kill an innocent person, and DO NOTHING. I demand gun control.”
Many fans tweeted a post by Nev Schulman, proposing that America make it as difficult to own a gun as it is to get an abortion: “mandatory 48-hr waiting period, parental permission, a note from his doctor proving he understands what he’s about to do, a video he has to watch about the effects of gun violence, and an ultrasound wand up the ass (just because). Let’s close down all but one gun shop in every state and make him travel hundreds of miles, take time off work, and stay overnight in a strange town to get a gun. Make him walk through a gauntlet of people holding photos of loved ones who were shot to death, people who call him a murderer and beg him not to buy a gun.” Other fans have been even more radical, proposing the complete banning of guns in their grief.
While it’s clear that Christina Grimmie touched many lives and will be dearly missed, she is still only one of thousands of innocent victims of gun violence; her passing isn’t so much the problem as a symptom of a much larger one. In the same city less than 48 hours after her death, Fort Pierce resident Omar Mateen killed 50 at a gay nightclub in the deadliest mass shooting in US History. According to the CDC, guns now account for as many deaths as cars do, and in 2015 the Gun Violence Archive reported that an average of 36 Americans were killed by guns per day. Deputy Director of the Center for American Progress fund, Igor Volsky, responded to the nightclub massacre on Twitter (@igorvolsky) by calling out all the US politicians who have received sponsorships from the National Rifle Association. Along with their public statements calling for thoughts and prayers and sympathizing with the victims and their families, Volsky posted the amount each politician received in exchange for opposing stricter gun laws. Central Florida representative Daniel Webster “got $7,950 from @NRA, so he’s only using his prayers to prevent future mass shootings,” Volsky wrote. “[Senator Thom Tillis] got $2,459,881 in expenditures from @NRA & voted against making it harder for terrorists to get guns.”
It’s clear America needs to take responsibility for its shortcomings in this area, as guns are disturbingly easy to purchase with Omar Mateen having obtained both his weapons legally. Perhaps Nev Schulman’s proposal to make gun ownership more of a hassle is correct in principle, and we should look towards increased regulations, banning of assault rifles and more in-depth background checks for prospective buyers as possible paths to take in order to improve America’s current situation. At least after Wednesday’s 15-hour filibuster, it looks like Congress is finally addressing its inaction regarding gun violence, with Democrat Chris Murphy earning promises for votes on the issue.
This article was written by Jade Carraway, a writer for dusk magazine.