Thoughts and prayers. This seems to be the preferred solution whenever there is an act of senseless violence in the U.S.– especially when it is gun violence. It happens time and time again whether it is a school shooting in Florida or a gunman in Las Vegas. It is the easiest thing to do in response to something so tragic. It is also one of the most passive things one can do. You can have good intentions and wish well to those who were affected. But in the end, thoughts and prayers provide the easy way out. They don’t require you to act or take a stand. They don’t change anything.
The U.S. loves to take the moral high ground. So much so that we invade other countries and dismantle governments. But where is this moral high ground when seventeen people are shot dead at a high school? Where is it when students are forced to step over their dead teacher in trying to get away from the shooter? Where is it when President Trump tries to blame the FBI for the shooting? The U.S. has lost its moral high ground when it comes to gun control. Shootings and senseless gun violence run rampant and unchecked in this country. The right to bear arms has become a weapon in itself.
The U.S. could attempt to be humble for once and take a cue from other countries on gun control. After a 1996 mass shooting in Port Arthur left 35 dead and 23 wounded, Australia took action. The government implemented a massive buyback program where private citizens could sell back their guns to the government. Automatic and semiautomatic weapons were banned. A national firearms registry was created and a 28-day waiting period was instituted for gun purchases. As a result, gun-deaths dropped by almost half.
Japan was actually the first nation to enforce gun laws, indicative of the belief that “guns really don’t play a part in civilian society.” If a Japanese citizen wishes to own a gun, they are put through a series of tests and evaluations. This includes a class, written test, shooting range test, mental health evaluation and background check. Purchases are limited to shotguns and air rifles, and the class and written exam must be retaken every three years. Off-duty police officers are not permitted to carry firearms and law enforcement instead relies on martial arts and striking weapons. As a result, Japan rarely has more than ten shooting deaths a year with a population of 127 million people.
Thoughts and prayers don’t sound so good now. Even more so, it makes the U.S. look complacent and weak. Thus, it is time to go a step further. It is time to follow up thoughts and prayers with action and legislation It is time to regain our moral high ground.