Severson Speaks: Preventing shootings


Morgan Severson

“Voting is the expression of our commitment to ourselves, one another, this country and this world”-Sharon Salzberg

Morgan Severson, Editor-in-Chief

From El Paso, Texas to Dayton, Ohio, the United States (US) is undergoing a deadly epidemic of mass shootings that easily could have been prevented if the right measures were taken and the right laws were in place. It is disturbing that on average, 40,000 lives are lost to gun violence each year, yet the government has done little to nothing when it comes to gun control. This year alone, there have been 22 shootings that have occurred on a school’s property and 283 shootings that occurred across the nation that were considered mass shootings. There have been more mass shootings this year than there have been days in this year. Let that sink in. How many more students’, concertgoers’, minorities’, shoppers’ and drivers’ lives will be lost before legitimate action is taken by our government to put a stop to these tragedies? The US is in dire need for gun control, and while lawmakers are the ones that make the rules, it is up to the people, the voters, to elect people into office that are going to take action.

The US is one of the easiest countries to own a gun in, as many citizens are so adamant about their second amendment right to bear arms. And while I am fully supportive of the idea of being able to defend yourself in bad situations, how many guns does one person really need? The zip code 77573, has more registered concealed guns than any other city in Texas, and the US has the highest amount of guns per capita, 89-100 guns for every 100 people. While Americans make up only five percent of the world’s population, they own half of the world’s guns. Clearly there is a correlation between how many guns Americans own and how often mass shootings occur. Having multiple weapons and new accessories for weapons that make them even deadlier (like silencers that make guns quieter and higher capacity magazines that allow for more ammo to be fired before reloading) are both components that have helped aid mass shootings. There are also multiple loopholes that make it quicker and easier to get your hands on a gun, like private gun sales. Guns can be purchased online or in gun shows without background checks because the government does not require private sellers to do them. In fact, the Odessa gun man had failed a government background check to own a gun and ended up buying his gun from a private seller. The government knows this is a problem, but they have failed to do anything about it. This is because so many of our politicians are lobbied by the National Rifle Association (NRA).

This year, three shootings have occurred in Texas alone, while Texas is one of the number one states with politicians backed by the NRA, with a total $700,000 worth of lobbying throughout the last several years. Former Governor Rick Perry has earned roughly $25,000 from NRA lobbying and Governor Greg Abbott has received roughly $13,000. These large sums of money can be very persuasive, influencing law makers to pass laws (or not pass laws) that are in the best interests of their pockets and not the people. Since the El Paso shooting that occurred in a Walmart killed 22 people, the company decided to stop nearly all firearm sales and banned bringing guns into their stores, while on the other hand, the government has not taken any action. No matter how many letters are written, protests are held, lives are lost, no real change is going to occur before we vote for lawmakers that will actually do something.

Democratic presidential nominee, Beto O’Rourke, from El Paso, is one of the only nominees so far to express an aggressive plan to put an end to mass shootings. O’Rourke is calling for a mandatory buy-back of AR-15s and AK-47s, if he were to be elected president. This is because automatic rifles are the ones most commonly used in mass shootings. The former Texas House Representatives is also making promises to close all the loopholes for purchasing a gun and imposing tighter background checks. He has an “F” rating from the NRA and has accepted zero dollars from them.

When we educate ourselves about who our politicians are, what they stand for and what they promise to do for our country, when we do not just vote for someone simply because of a promising TV ad or the fact that they were a reality TV star, or that they make a lot of money, then we will truly be electing politicians that put the people first. The problem of mass shootings is a very complex one, many components are involved like gun laws, mental health and corrupt politicians. But I believe the problem can be solved at the root of its source; voters making the right decisions.