Maybe it is because I had been absent from the U.S. for so long (two months, to be exact), but every time I see headlines that relate to another mass shooting, I feel as if I live in a reality that is distorted—away, yet so close to the unimaginable horrors happening at home. I avoid the news like a plague—I don’t want to see another headline announcing deaths in my resident country. It was almost as if I wasn’t just on a vacation away from responsibilities, but on a vacation away from the constant stream of tragedy I am accustomed to hearing about.
After one mass shooting, Australia banned semi-automatic weapons and introduced tougher regulations on purchasing guns (1). Six days—just six days—after the NZ shooting, the government passed gun laws 191-1 (2). And I’ve lived and breathed among these people—these countries. They do not have to fear if their little brother will be okay going to school in the fall. They don’t have to consider the possibility—the horrifying, heartbreaking possibility—that perhaps this time, maybe he should purchase a bulletproof backpack. It’s disgusting. It’s disgusting that we have to think about this.
Shame on you, America. It’s disgusting that gun control is a bipartisan issue (the only people who benefit from this bipartisanship are the politicians—not the people—who use these platforms as part of their campaign to gain votes; the people, the living, breathing people, don’t benefit). It’s disgusting that any talks about gun control were symbolically annihilated the minute the U.S. decided that killing children was okay. It’s disgusting. And I am sick, disgustingly sick, of hearing things that defend “the right to bear arms.” I am sick and tired of hearing that “the good guy with a gun” can stop the “bad guy with a gun.” I am sick and tired of reading yet another headline about the disgusting cycle of violence that guns perpetuate.
Perhaps even more than that, I am disgusted by the sheer magnitude of ignorance regarding the actions of the NRA that runs rampant throughout the country. And this ignorance isn’t just common to an increasingly bipartisan public—it can be found among staunch supporters of the 2nd Amendment and NRA-card carrying members. It is the ignorance regarding the true cycle of violence, greed and corruption that the NRA perpetuates.
The cycle is as follows: The NRA lobbies in the U.S. for looser gun laws, taking advantage of mass shootings by expressing the need for people to protect themselves, and by shoving the “good guy with a gun” narrative down our unsuspecting throats. These loose gun laws allow the NRA to export and sell weapons to South America (and around the entire world)—but South America is significant to this cycle; more than half of the weapons in some South American countries can be traced back to the U.S. (3). The presence of weapons in these countries with unstable governments spawns war, uncertainty and distress, and notably—desperate migration. South Americans try to flee to the U.S. because of gang violence, government corruption, and a frighteningly armed nation. They try to flee the very violence that is caused by unchecked access to American firearms. And the NRA’s reaction to these people, who suffered because of their exports, is to use their anti-migrant narrative to lobby for looser gun laws. The NRA expertly spreads panic about the people coming into the U.S., claiming that they are trying to cause harm. And yet, in the end, who wins? Not the migrants trying to flee from war. Not the armed citizens in unstable countries whose access to weapons have only intensified fervor and destruction. Not the ignorant American public being fed prejudice in order to advance the agenda of an organization.
No, in the end, only the NRA—a criminal organization—wins. And we let them win. We let them skew the narrative. We let them become our puppet masters, ruling us with the strings of fear and distrust. We allow them to control our government, assuring them a monopoly over conflicts across the globe. We let them win. And yet, we have no idea that we are letting them win.
(3) Hassan Minaj, Patriot Act, NRA