When is the right time to talk reform?

By: Ryan Kirby, Columnist 

When tragedy strikes and the worst of humanity is revealed, it is up to us to display the best in humanity and care for those that have been affected. American society has been faced with a number of tragedies in recent weeks; multiple devastating hurricanes, a horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas and deadly wildfires across the West Coast. Many Americans have responded with thoughts and prayers, cash donations, blood drives and other forms of giving to help victims and first responders. There have also been discussions and accusations that some people make these tragedies too political too soon. When is it acceptable to talk about causes to these tragedies, even if it means getting political?

Of course, there is no cut and dry rule for when it is appropriate to discuss causes to a tragedy, but I would argue that solutions should be talked about sooner rather than later. It is important to grieve for our fellow citizens and provide whatever aid we can in the immediate aftermath of a catastrophe; however, the hard discussions about preventing future catastrophes is necessary.

The shooting in Las Vegas involves an even more polarizing issue; gun control. At least 59 people lost their lives and hundreds more were injured. Avoiding discussions about how to prevent future tragedies does a disservice to those who lost their lives, and to those who have lost their loved ones. We live in a society where innocent people can be gunned down and the best we can do is offer thoughts and prayers. The gunman had purchased 33 weapons in the last year, an average of one weapon every 11 days. How do we live in a society where an individual is allowed to purchase that many weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition and it raises no red flags?

Not only was he able to amass a stockpile of weapons and ammunition, but he was able to purchase a bump fire stock — which is completely legal to purchase, just not to use in some states — that makes his weapons fire at a rate similar to fully-automatic weapons. Nobody should be able to legally purchase an accessory that makes a weapon illegal. That is a simple step we can take and is the opening to a broader topic to solve gun violence in this country.

When tragedy strikes our response should not be to simply sit idly by. I would argue that we need to have these discussions when the emotions are still raw. These conversations are not supposed to make you feel comfortable nor happen when it is most convenient. When a tragedy occurs, the first step is to grieve, but immediately after there needs to be a dialogue about solutions. How many more Americans have to die or suffer because we choose not to act? I don’t believe that when a horrific event occurs, we should merely accept the premise that it is the “price of freedom” like Bill O’Reilly would have us believe. No, I choose to believe we can and should do better, and I look forward to having a discussion on solutions with my fellow Americans.

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