On a Saturday afternoon in Allen, Texas, eight lives were stolen from us in only four minutes. Like hundreds of others this year, this tragedy has been washed away in the news, becoming merely a transitory memory in our minds, as we anticipate the outbreak of another similar atrocity to elicit another fleeting response.
I could drop a series of statistics showing the gun violence our country suffers from or the number of people stolen from us due to senseless laws, or lack thereof. But I simply do not see the point. No matter the number of incidents or the statistical and empirical data, we revolve around the same moot points that divide us.
Discussions about solving the issue lead many to delve into a cyclical debate that borders philosophical ruminations. From interpretations of the Second Amendment to the idea that moral culpability for any violence enacted by a gun is fully justified by the individual themselves, we never reach any common sense consensus despite the answer being fairly evident. This issue we face — sending our loved ones to school with an unconscious and repressed fear we may never see them again, avoiding open malls for the potentiality of an aggressor striking AR-15 bullets and dropping bodies across the pavements — are what one might expect from the throes of war.
However, our war isn’t against imperialist forces or due to ethno-religious conflict. It’s between political parties on domestic soil who want to prove themselves more worthy than the other in the next election. Is that the result of a constrained two-party system? That’s another question. But, one thing’s for sure — a country that should ensure the protection and preservation of all its people has exceptions when it comes to dollar bills. Borrowing the clarity of conservative former Chief Justice Warren Burger, “The Gun Lobby’s interpretation of the Second Amendment is one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American People by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”
It’s evident that the Second Amendment, once a safeguard of the free state, has been distorted into an instrument that the framers of the Constitution would scarcely recognize. The architects of our freedom envisioned a well-regulated militia, not an unregulated citizenry armed with tools of war. Yet, in the hands of the gun lobby, it has been twisted and turned, manipulated into a shield that protects not the sanctity of life, but the commerce of death.
One thing we have always leveraged against other countries is our pride in our democracy. We constantly condemn tyrannical governments or particular countries that do not adhere to these strong values, for throwing their civilians into the tides of destruction and death without blinking an eye. We criticize corrupt governments overseas, destabilized and exploited by first-world countries, for their indifference towards human costs. Shame on us for not holding the same standard for our own people. Our battle is on domestic soil by domestic agents of destruction, yet many of us find ourselves electing these politicians without holding them accountable for the lives they let us lose.
We are, paradoxically, perpetrating victims of lobbyism. We are complicit and complacent to leaders who value profit over people. We refuse to listen to each other over the piercing, tumultuous sirens of the gun lobby. These searing blares of discord between us are not painted red or blue – they are symptoms of the insidious creep of lobbyism destabilizing the bedrock of democracy.
I’ll consider dropping some key numbers, and I hope it carries some sort of valence to this piece. 80% of registered American gun owners are not affiliated with the NRA. Many see the illogicity of lax interpretation of constitutional amendments and the extremism of gun access, particularly to more automated and militaristic weapons. A leaning majority of gun owners (60%) support proposals such as raising legal ownership age from 18 to 21, and deem it necessary for courts to have jurisdiction over gun ownership when they are determined dangerous to the public. However, like a snake slithering through fields to capture its prey, the NRA has successfully deadlocked Republican politicians into refusing bipartisan legislation or consensus on gun laws out of fear of negative advertising campaigns or campaign losses.
This is not an issue where political parties should represent or have valence over the deaths we witness from gun violence. This is a moral questioning on the sanctity of our government and democracy as a whole, and more importantly the absurdity stemming from party identity and tolerance for static progress. How have we been conned and brainwashed so intensely by our leaders, that we sacrifice our own people in the name of AR-15s? When do we hold these politicians accountable for their cash grabs from the conglomerate?
The mass shooting in Allen, Texas is one added number in a series of statistical analyses and data on gun violence in the United States. How does the loss of eight lives amount to a mere additional column in a list of stolen souls? More importantly, who are we to tell their parents, children, grandchildren, siblings, that the issue of gun violence has no answer or resolve? We may forget the incidents and the victims involved, but not everyone has that privilege.
This is not a call for an all-out gun ban or to revoke the Second Amendment, but a desperate plea for common sense gun control, for mutual understanding and empathetic dialogue. It is a call to break free from the shackles of lobbyism that hold us hostage, costing us lives. We cannot claim to be a country of freedom and democracy when we are beholden to organizations that prioritize profit over people and political standing over public safety. We are more than party lines and political affiliations; we are families, communities, individuals whose lives are irreplaceable and whose safety should be uncompromised. Let’s finally refuse to be pawns in a game of power and money. Our lives are not painted in red or blue.
NOOR CHAFOUK is a rising College junior studying economics and political science from Dallas. Her email is email@example.com.