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By Nick Jamrog | Herald Contributor
I am a Republican. I have been one since I was old enough to understand politics and I will likely be one for the rest of my life. I have no problem admitting that I voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, and I do not shy away from taking a conservative viewpoint on most political issues.
When Donald Trump ran a campaign behind promises like, “Make America Safe Again,” I was fully supportive. I want a safe country. If a border wall will stop the flow of drugs into our streets, then build that wall. If a travel ban will keep religious terrorists out of our cities, then institute a travel ban. Whatever it takes to make our country safe again, I’m all for it. However, if Republican voters like me are all about the safety of our country, why do we turn a blind eye when one man has the power to wipe out 59 lives in a matter of minutes?
The harsh truth is, when it comes to issues like this, we are hypocrites. If we want to help build the safe country we want, then as Republicans we must recognize reality.
Weapons like the ones used by the Vegas shooter serve absolutely no purpose in society and should not be readily available in a peaceful nation.
We claim to be the party that supports free speech and we claim to always be open to the idea of debate. Yet when discussion is prompted about gun control, we immediately shut it down, making us no better than the people we critique. The first thing we as Republicans say is that this isn’t the time for debate; it’s the time for mourning. Unfortunately, when this happens so frequently in this country, something’s gotta give.
If a car’s airbags don’t work, we will talk about car safety. If a plane crashes we talk about the safety of air travel. So why is it when these mass shootings happen routinely, we refuse to talk about gun safety?
As a country, we are always mourning victims of mass shootings because it feels like they happen every single day. That’s pretty pathetic for what I have always believed to be the greatest country on earth.
When I was a kid, I remember lead toys being recalled because they were dangerous. While this was frustrating, my life did not change by having that toy taken away. I did not need that toy, just like no American needs an automatic rifle. Yes, it’s a cool thing to have; shooting an AR-15 is admittedly awesome; however my life would be no different if I had never done so and the lives of Americans would not change if such weapons were restricted in a meaningful way.
Of course, the argument is made that we as citizens do need them, for protection, in case the government takes over or because it’s our right. Unfortunately, those explanations are just not logical. If you need an M27 to protect yourself or your family then you don’t know how to use a gun properly. If we need them in case the government takes over—well regrettably, your rifle isn’t going to stop a tank. Lastly, it’s our right. This one I personally struggle with because I believe we should follow the Constitution. Then I ask myself, if the same Founding Fathers who said every person is entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness saw that tens of thousands of people each year are stripped of those rights due to gun violence, would they still write the same law? A logical person would say no, but we as Republicans seem to be unable to admit that.
Instead we blame the hotel, the school, the theater, the night club, the health clinic, saying they didn’t do a good enough security check or that if someone had a gun they would have stopped them. Yet it is almost impossible to find a case where a civilian with an assault rifle stopped a mass shooting, or even a civilian with any gun. We blame mental health support, saying that it wasn’t provided and that’s what we need to reform; however, any unbiased psychologist or criminologist will tell you that mental health cannot be blamed. Some people just do evil things, as appears to be the case in this shooting. We blame religion, race, gender, or any other scapegoat we can think of instead of facing the obvious truth. It is time to be adults and put blame where it belongs.
The blame is on our party because we have continued to supply terrorist scumbags with the means to easily kill their fellow American citizens. We claim to be the party that supports police, yet we support a system that allows civilians to carry better weapons than most of our officers.
As a criminal justice student who one day hopes to become a police officer, it is terrifying to watch video after video of police officers being massacred by the weapons we support. I strongly believe all lives matter, but as a party we cannot simultaneously claim this statement and provide citizens with the means to destroy all lives.
We cannot simultaneously support rounding up ten million illegal immigrants but refuse to support the regulation of dangerous weapons. We cannot vote to restrict a woman’s right to choose or a gay man’s to marry but then refuse to allow our own liberties to be limited. Lastly, we cannot claim to support our military when the peace that our service members fight and die for is continuously disgraced by these mass shootings.
What it comes down to is a choice of what is more important. In my criminology class, we learn about tertiary victims. Tertiary victims are people who are not directly affected by a crime but can relate out of a shared humanity. In weeks like this one, everyone is a tertiary victim because everyone has someone they love most. For me, it is my sister, a 17-year-old with Down-syndrome. After the San Bernardino shooting, where American Citizens slaughtered a health clinic of people with mental disabilities, I realized it is an easy choice to make.
We as Republicans can acknowledge that we do not need our automatic rifles, that extensive background checks are necessary, and that we have the power to change this country. If we can’t do that, then we should each take a moment look into the eyes of the person we love most and tell them we are okay with them being blown to hell, because they’re not worth a damn thing as long as we have our guns.