Today’s shooting in Sparks, Nevada represents yet another instance of gun violence that seems to plague American society. The gun culture has run amok and now risks students across the country, from Newtown, CT to Nevadans.
As a student born in Nevada, the shooting at Sparks Middle School brings the rampant gun problem into a personal perspective. Repeatedly, politicians and media are heard saying in regard to legislation on gun control, “What will it take?” It is a saddening reality that the political attention span of Americans shifts from issue to issue, ignoring the true change that needs to occur within gun laws.
Members of the Nevada congressional delegation such as Rep. Steven Horsford have been especially vocal about the need for enhanced background checks, for example. Representatives must not give up on this fight, regardless of what the media finds “interesting” to report. While complete details about the Sparks shooter and how the weapon was acquired are still developing, the need for a continued discussion about gun laws is urgent. Put simply, if the conversation keeps getting overshadowed by other issues, tragedies will continue.
After the Newtown shooting, there was legislation introduced and rejected by many Republicans, including the Republican members of Congress from Nevada, and by some select Democrats. The legislation did not move through Congress and eventually the conversation dwindled, leaving the families of victims with no change.
Increasing gun laws, while most effective, are not the only way to prevent another tragedy like that of Sparks.
Bullying and cyberbullying are serious issues that have been of high attention recently. Anti-bullying programs in schools, for example, must be given more priority and funding because they are, essentially, ways of preventing tragedies such as the Sparks shooting. A witness of the shooting reported that the shooter murmured words about being made fun of and being laughed at. Of course, the most apt reminder of such a situation is the Columbine shooting. Anti-bullying efforts should be included in the vast umbrella of gun violence prevention efforts, along with mental health concerns.
Americans should no longer exaggerate the intent of the Second Amendment and sacrifice the safety of children. Sparks is an unfortunate reminder that a range of gun-related issues remains untouched. Assault weapons, enhanced background checks, and mental health efforts along with anti-bullying programs become part of the discussion, but still we see no tangible actions. Republicans must find the compassion to put their Second Amendment loyalty aside for the sake of protecting the future, our students.
When we ask, “What will it take?” to see change in our gun laws, the answer is that it will take compassion. We do not need events like Newtown, Aurora, or Sparks to occur for us to realize that gun laws are a priority. We need commitment and compassion from the nation’s representatives for students and their families in order to minimize the beloved gun culture.
Ignore the pressure of the NRA, ignore what the media finds interesting. Nothing is more important than the safety of children, and members of Congress will find that voters agree.