More Than Prayers, Orlando Needs Policy Change

It’s news to no one that the largest shooting in US history occurred at the gay nightclub, Pulse, in Orlando early Sunday morning. Some are reporting that the act was one of terrorism, as the shooter pledged allegiance to ISIS, while others are condemning it as a hate crime against the LGBT population. Rhetoric aside, it’s clear we have a worldwide problem with ISIS and statewide, that we have serious issues with gun control. Omar Mateen, the man who associates himself with the biggest threat to humanity currently, LEGALLY obtained his weapons in the U.S. of A., despite being on the FBI watch list since 2013.

Naturally, we the American people have responded with outrage. Many of us are wondering what can we do as individuals to stop this from happening. No matter how many memes of prayer we post or how many vigils we hold all across the country, it still doesn’t prevent the fact that these mass shootings are occurring in the first place. How can I, an ordinary citizen, speak my voice and get guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists, emotionally and mentally disturbed individuals, and toddlers and young children who accidentally kill themselves or others every single year?

One of the worst things about taking a class on public policy this past semester was the helplessness that I felt. We learned about every facet of public policy including how the wording of policies can be used to support certain groups of people while discriminating against others. My frustration continued to mount as I learned that most policies are not made with the benefit of the people in mind, but with the policy creators themselves. Nearly all politicians or interest groups that create these policies are motivated by power and more importantly, the cheddar. Hardly any political decision of the past 100 years has been made by the pure of heart. This is unfortunately the case with gun control. The National Rifle Association is a powerful interest group, dead set on making as much money as possible at the expense of the lives of Americans.”The NRA claims that gun ownership offers the prospect of living without fear; but the armed society it envisions brings the prospect of constant fear. At best, the NRA world is a tense, ever-present standoff between armed citizens.”Source

With this in mind, how can the individual influence a change in gun control on the state or national level? If serious amounts of money being given to members of Congress by the NRA are causing every effort of gun control to disseminate, how can we possibly get anything to change?

“The silent majority must prioritize gun control at the polls, electing leaders who commit to gun control legislation and removing those who surrender to the NRA in order to earn the gun lobby’s coveted A+ rating. This needs to happen at the state level, too” Source.  The Washington Post has done a fantastic job in clearly charting how the NRA exerts influence over members of Congress. The link is definitely worth looking at. More specifically, here you can see exactly which member of Congress supports more gun rights, more gun control, and who disagrees with assault weapon bans. It’s pretty scary.

Regardless of which party you affiliate with, it’s clear that Republicans in Congress have much interest in that shiny phallic structure of ultimate power. Fortunately, it’s an election year, people. That means some members of Congress are on the way out, and there may be something we mere citizens can do to make our voices heard. Not only can we choose to replace members of Congress with those that vehemently opposed the rampant use and purchase of guns, but “a Democratic presidential rout might be the only way Democrats have a chance to pick up the 30 seats they need for a House majority” Source. As noted from the Washington Post chart, more Democrats in the House could truly end up saving our lives.

I am learning a lot of this information myself along the way and before I close, I must make it clear that I’m no expert. I’m just a gal with a computer and a lot of feelings. I am in no way placing blame on good Americans who identify with the Republican party. My own parents are Republicans. I am simply restating facts, and the fact is, the majority of Republicans in Congress are heavily interested in less gun control. I also wish to make it clear that I doubt anyone, including the NRA, has the intention of letting those who are unfit to own guns do so. However…

The only way to be sure that you’re doing real work on changing gun control policy is by being certain that who you vote for is not receiving $$$ from the NRA.The memes are fine, folks, just make sure that there is some meaning behind them. Turn up to the polls this November. A quick Google will let you know of who in your area you can count on.

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