Ask Alex: ‘Thoughts and prayers only go so far’

Alex Runyon, Photo Editor

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“This is the price of freedom,” Bill O’Reilly blogged after a mass shooting that left 58 dead in Las Vegas last month. “Violent nuts are allowed to roam free until they do damage, no matter how threatening they are. The 2nd Amendment is clear that Americans have a right to arm themselves for protection. Even the loons.”

The Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

These words were penned in 1791 and have been revitalized by lawmakers and lobbyists, the National Rifle Association chief among them.

2017 has been, by all accounts, the deadliest year for mass shootings in modern America with 208 people killed. In the past 35 days alone, 84 people have been killed in two mass shootings. These numbers are plastered across social media and yelled from the mouths of pundits throughout a 24-hour news cycle that will, seemingly, never end. These numbers are powerful and carry the weight of lives ended at the hands of senseless violence. So why are they so easily drowned out by the words of the Second Amendment?

I’m not a lawyer, a constitutional scholar, a political analyst or a lawmaker. But I, as a member of the “free State” the Second Amendment supposedly helps protect, have to ask why is this amendment is so important to conservatives?

You can’t yell “fire” in a movie theater if there isn’t a fire. You can’t say “I have a bomb” in the airport and expect to board your flight. You can’t knowingly and intentionally print lies about someone in a newspaper. There are limits to publishing obscenity. You can’t claim to have been in the military when you were not. You can’t urge people to dodge the draft. Your freedom of speech is limited in the workplace and at school. Your first amendment freedoms are limited every single day for safety, for common sense, for a well-organized society. This is the “price of freedom.”

Mass shootings, death, young people paralyzed, children left without parents, parents left without children – this is not the “price of freedom.” This is the price of relentless lobbying by the NRA; fear-mongering “pundits” like O’Reilly, who told people for eight years the president would be taking their guns; fragile and toxic masculinity requiring a collection of comically phallic weapons.

The Second Amendment is not holy. It is not free from limitations, and it is not an excuse for massacres like the one Texas saw last night. I don’t have a problem with guns, but I have a huge problem with the absolute terror being inflicted in our nation – the land of the free, home of the brave, land of those addicted to violence and warfare, who would rather believe a black liberal president will show up at their doorstep demanding their shotguns than statistics.

People are begging for the deaths of the Texas victims not to become politicized. These people don’t want to hear about gun control after a mass shooting any more than people want to hear about climate change after a record-breaking hurricane season. They don’t want to hear “Black Lives Matter” or about police brutality after a teenager is shot and killed. People want to post their “thoughts and prayers” to Facebook before scrolling to a meme. If we don’t listen and engage in conversation, neither will the people making the laws. Thoughts and prayers only go so far.

Alex Runyon can be contacted at [email protected]

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