By Emily Feldmesser
“Another day, another mass shooting.” That was my first thought when I heard about the Navy Yard incident in Washington D.C. on Sept. 16. As of press time, 13 people have been confirmed dead, including the suspected shooter.
I feel like I can’t escape this vicious cycle of gun violence. Every time I check the New York Times” or see the televisions in Hamilton-Williams Campus Center turned to CNN, the headline is always about a shooting or two. It’s gotten to the point where I just expect to hear about a shooting on the news. It’s a sad reality.
I grew up in Wisconsin, where hunting is way of life. Guns are constantly present. On Aug. 5, 2012, in Oak Creek, which is about half an hour from my house, an armed man barged into a Sikh Temple and opened fire. In all, seven people were killed, including the shooter, Wade Michael Page. Page was a former member of the U.S. Army and a white supremacist. He legally purchased the guns used in his rampage.
This shooting hit close to home, figuratively and literally. You think you’re immune to these acts of gun violence when you’re nestled in your cozy little bubble. But when it does happen, you’re in shock. I know I was. I was glued to the TV for the next few days, just watching the coverage.
Wisconsin has a concealed carry law, which basically means people are literally allowed to carry guns wherever they want. So whenever I go into my local Jewish Community Center, where my mom works, I see a sign that says that guns aren’t allowed on the premises. I would think that one wouldn’t need a gun going into a place where kids go to day camp or where people go work out.
My household is quite liberal, and while growing up, I wasn’t surrounded by guns. My dad told me when he was younger he had a .22 caliber rifle. When I found that out, I was utterly shocked. However, he told me that he and his brother had to take classes provided by the National Rifle Association in order to shoot the rifle at a local shooting range.
Still, the fact that my dad, who is the biggest proponent for gun control I know, had a gun rattled me. He told me, “Look, I’m not anti-gun. I’m just very pro-gun control and education.” That’s the stage I’m currently in. The fact that civilians are able to purchase semi-automatic guns to just have them is sickening. These are military grade weapons, what does John Smith from Anywhere, U.S.A., need it for?
Guns need restrictions. There, I said it. People are so afraid of this topic, as to not offend anyone. What’s there to offend? We need stronger gun control laws in order to prevent tragedies like Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., shootings from happening again.
I’ve always thought it was common sense for there to be education and stricter rules for people purchasing arms. But as I’ve talked to people, I’ve realized my views aren’t as common sense as I would like them to be.
Some think there should be no restrictions on guns. I ask them, “Even automatic weapons? You think automatic weapons are okay for regular people to just gallivant around town with?” They give me a blank stare while I sigh. The conversation is almost pointless.
After every major tragedy with guns, there’s a large outcry about the need for stricter gun control laws. Facebook and Twitter are abuzz with impassioned pleas for a change in the laws. I cannot deny that I’m guilty of hopping on this social media bandwagon, too.
But I actually write to my lawmakers. After the failure of the latest gun control bill in April 2013, I wrote to both of my senators about their votes on the bill. I received the generic “Thanks for contacting us, but…” email. Hey, at least I did my part.
Recently, it came out that Iowa that blind people are allowed to have gun permits. And according to the Washington Post, in one county, three permits were granted to people who aren’t allowed to drive legally. Doesn’t that sound like a headline from the Onion? I feel like the next step is to allow dogs to get guns. I can just imagine it—my lovable golden retriever wearing a gun holster to the dog park! Doesn’t he have the right to bear arms?
In order for our country to not have these tragic events occur on an almost daily basis, there needs to be actual change in our government. People need to be persistent when it comes to talking to their senators or anyone who represents them. Don’t just put your opinion on social media—do something to start the changes. I know I’m writing to my elected officials, because I don’t want my dog to be able to own a gun.