Out of the Blue: Could you do me a favor?

Maya Murthy

It feels like every few weeks there’s news of another major shooting: it’s a normal day of screaming about body counts and the psychological profile of a lone wolf, a rising shout of confusion and sickness that festers in the gaping wound we can’t manage to stitch together.

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Someone has been killed, someone has done the killing, and everyone is heartbroken. Nothing will be accomplished, and in another few weeks we’ll all have that same national conversation about what must be done to prevent an incident like this from ever happening again.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. But, whatever.

Today, I’m not going to talk about national background checks, or really any sort of policy because I’m 17 and have zero expertise on national firearm registration law.  Instead, I’m going to ask each of you a favor.

The United States has 310 million guns: more firearms than pretty much any other country on Earth. Statistically, a person with a gun is more likely to die by gunshot, whether the injury is self inflicted or otherwise. A gun owner, especially an untrained one, is not very likely to be accurate when defending their home and is instead more likely to be killed by their assailant

So, knowing all of this, I’m asking if you could maybe think about not buying a gun.

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Illustration by Renee Pu

Currently, it is each of our rights to own a firearm of our choosing to protect ourselves and our interests. To be honest, I’m not really sure whether that right extends to civilians owning machine guns, but I’m not here to debate how far the Second Amendment extends.

I’m here because statistically…actually there aren’t any statistics. We don’t know how many Americans die of gun violence every year because no one’s really allowed to collect that data (thanks Congress!). But we all know that American gun violence is larger than that of any other developed country in the world. We all know that this year we have had more mass shootings than days, that watching our president stand up to give a speech about how none of us expected to wake up to a body count is getting routine.

It doesn’t look like our elected officials are going to do anything, and so people we think are too dangerous to fly on airplanes will continue to purchase weapons manufactured to be used by our special forces in war zones. Apparently there’s nothing we can do about that except elect them out. I’d like to point out, though, that the elected officials our community votes for–both our Senators and our congressmen–are all in favor of gun reform, which means that there really is nothing we can do.

The only thing we can control is ourselves, which brings me back to that favor I’m asking of you. Each of us, at some point in our lives, will have to make the decision about how we want to protect ourselves. Maybe owning a gun will never occur to you, or maybe you’ve already been polishing the family handgun you plan on inheriting. But I don’t want to wake up one morning and read an obituary about any of us. I don’t want to wake up one morning and read about how poor judgement and easy access to a lethal war machine turned any of us into something we’re not. For better or worse, we’re all trapped in a system that allows the unspeakable to be spoken of, every few weeks in a spiral that doesn’t seem to have a bottom.

All I can do, all any of us can do, is try to not be a part of the problem.