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Weapons of mass distraction

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Garrett Dzugan, Guest Writer

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In recent times our nation has faced a new front of events and politics that have us, as a people, more divided than ever. Nearly every day, in the limelight of major news sources, stories emerge about an active shooter with their very own head count in mind; however, gun violence is nothing new in America; it is only now that it can be found on the front page. Shootings occur all over the country every day, whether it’s gang violence, domestic disputes, police shootings, or the rare mentally ill person who has taken it upon themselves to rack up as many kills as they can.

While this issue seems to be a topic of significant weight today more than ever, the story that is not being told is the same story that has never made the front page or earned the “BREAKING NEWS” banner on your favorite news source. The vast majority of gun deaths in the United States are not the fault of “assault rifles.” In fact, the FBI reported that only 4% of fatal shootings in 2005 were committed with rifles. Despite this, people have rallied in the millions to protest “assault weapons” (classified as weapons used to assault one or more person, including but not limited to: AR-15s, “assault trucks,” and anything that seems outrageous regardless of the actual threat it poses to society). Of course, people get active about gun violence only when mass shootings happen. This is dangerous to how we approach solving the issue of gun violence. Horrible events like those at San Bernardino and Parkland, Florida attract massive media attention and thus pull a curtain over the actual issues surrounding gun violence. People storm the streets and organize walkouts to protest AR-15s instead of the thousands of deaths caused every year by handguns. The media attention given to mass shootings has moved the focus of gun violence to an insanely small minority of firearm homicides in the United States.

This is not the first time the people have overreacted and called for something rash on the considerations of a vocal minority. In fact there are many famous incidents in which people have taken the words of the influential for gospel. As can be seen in historical text, the people attending Pontius Pilate’s court during the time of Jesus called for his crucifixion and for a notorious criminal, Barabbas, to be freed. This clearly well thought out decision was made on the basis of claims made by religious leaders who were upset with Jesus’ claim that he was the son of god. In more recent times, the public has overreacted to things due to disproportionate news coverage, a prime example of this is the “Ebola Outbreak” of 2014. Many news stations reported the disease spreading in other countries and while yes, the disease is a threat, many people concerned themselves with finding a vaccine for a disease that had not even been seen on the same continent as them. Due to the widespread news coverage of the “outbreak” and the over exaggeration of the issue, parents pulled their kids out of schools, people called off of work, and the entire nation was focused on an issue that was not of concern to us anyway, due to our advancement of medicinal practices and treatments available in the United States.

Not only must the people do their own research and find the facts surrounding a topic before making their stance, but they should also look for the stories that are not preached as loud as others, such as those of the thousands of people that take their own lives with firearms each year. According to public health expert Garen Wintermute in an article published by the Annual Review of Public Health, in 2013 and 2010, 64% of all gun related deaths in the United States were suicides. While this was the major reason for gun deaths then and now, you do not see people marching in the millions for people who are only aiming the gun at themselves. People see it differently if their loved ones kill themselves over them being killed. The reason for this lies behind the ideology that we will not blame ourselves for the faults in the society we help form when, instead we can blame the incident on a troubled person with an AR-15. But at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter who pulled the trigger when a life is lost.

People will argue that concern over a disease outbreak is quite different from a nation “Plagued of Gun Violence” (an actual title of multiple articles from varying news sources, including CNN) and that they can not be compared to each other. Regardless of the topic, and regardless of the threat, we need to be skeptical of the stories covered on the news. We MUST NOT allow our most important political decisions to be influenced by momentary emotions, rather, we need to look at the facts. There has been one major mass shooting thus far in 2018 involving an AR-15. Many more die every day in this country due to handgun violence and suicide, so let us think twice before we walk out of school or storm the streets of Washington calling out the NRA as our scapegoat. We must not be distracted from reality by our emotions. If we fail to make concise, confident changes for the better, we will only have ourselves to blame.

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Weapons of mass distraction