By Ranen Miao
I could easily reduce this article to a death toll, the number of people injured, and the location: 59 people dead and 527 people injured in Las Vegas. But let me show you the full picture, which is beyond any statistic.
Gunshots. Screams. Blood. Panicked people, fleeing from the sounds of death. Sirens ringing in the distance. This is what a mass shooting looks like.
I am tired of hearing statistics like 26 murdered in Newtown Elementary in 2012, thirteen killed at Columbine in 1999, or 49 massacred at the Pulse Night Club in 2016. We hear these statistics far too often, yet our representatives never do anything to change it.
It has been less than a year since the last worst mass shooting in American history. After Pulse in Florida, we grieved, we sent out our thoughts and our prayers, and we told ourselves this can never happen again. Since then, nothing has changed.
There are no universal background checks. The last time they were brought up in Congress was in 2016, when two bills were brought forth after the Pulse nightclub shooting, one by Republican Senator Grassley. It failed. The other was proposed by Democratic Senators Booker and Schumer. It also failed.
There is no ban on assault weapons, designed to massacre groups of people, not to hunt animals or defend your family. The Assault Weapons Ban Act of 2013, proposed by Senator Feinstein after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting and the most recent attempt to do so, failed in the Senate, 40-60.
Today, even the people on the terrorist watch list who are deemed a threat by the federal government, are granted access to guns. In 2016, Republican Senator Cornyn’s bill to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons, failed in the Senate. A similar bill, proposed by Democratic Senator Feinstein, preventing people on the terror watch list from buying guns--say it with me now--failed.
Time and time again, opinion polls show that a majority of Americans want change, yet that change never seems to manifest itself. We need to stand up for what we believe in, call our legislators (and critical legislators from other states too), and prove that our voices matter. In the status quo, only the loudest, most radical voices are being heard. It is our job to bring back sensibility and moderation to our politics. This is not partisan: this is common sense. We don’t need to be Democratic or Republican to think that mass shootings are bad, and that something has to be done. We just need to be human.
Sign up for advocacy groups and protests. Donate to and join organizations like the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Research about why mass shootings happen, and call your congresspeople (Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, and Representative Leonard Lance) to advocate for these policies, everything from banning assault weapons and bump stocks to implementing background checks against criminals, the mentally ill, and terrorists. Never forget that your voice can make a difference, and keep on fighting for a better, safer future.
In the words of comedian Trevor Noah, even though the Las Vegas shooting was deemed the worst in American history, “every shooting is the worst for someone.” Let us honor those who lost their lives in senseless tragedies in the past. Let us speak up and make change in our country and our community. Most importantly, let us not forget that this is not normal.