It was a warm summer evening in Lafayette, Louisiana and a group of innocent theater-goers were getting ready to watch the Amy Schumer comedy, “Trainwreck”. Without warning, the laughter stopped when a gunman opened fire, killing two innocent young lives.
This scene is reminiscent of a moment almost three years to the day earlier in Aurora, Colorado where a gunman opened fire on a group of movie goers clamouring to see the midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises.
In addition to the recent movie theater shootings, there have been five school shootings where the number of casualties numbered ten or more people (University of Texas, Columbine, Red Lake, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook and speaking of Sandy Hook, there have been approximately one hundred more school shootings since that tragedy. We are also only half way through 2015 and already there have been approximately 7,600 deaths due to gun violence. 439 of those deaths were children and 1,481 of those lost were teenagers.
After every single one of these shootings, Facebook and Twitter are filled with gun debates and questions as to when we will do something. When will a change happen? Well, at a news conference on a Monday in New York, Amy Schumer stepped up with her cousin, Senator Charles Schumer and revealed a plan for gun control. It’s a three-part plan that will make it harder for violent criminals and the mentally ill to obtain guns and it will do this by focusing on background checks and mental health funding.
In addition, this legislation would ultimately end up rewarding states that give complete records into the background check systems with funding and penalizing those that neglect to do so. Amy and Charles Schumer also discussed reaching out to the DOJ to release information on how states handle involuntary health commitments. For those not in the know, an involuntary health commitment refers to a legal process in which a person with symptoms of severe mental illness is court ordered into treatment. The Schumer pair will push congress to preserve mental health funding and substance abuse programs.
Amy Schumer explained that “preventing dangerous people from getting guns is possible” and added that she wasn’t sure “why this man chose [her] movie to end those two lives and injure nine others, but it was very personal for [her]. We always find out how the shooter got their gun and it’s always something that never should have happened in the first place.” Her cousin, Senator Schumer added that they are aware of the powerful lobby that they are up against which is the NRA. He also states that “if there’s anything that the mass shootings have taught us, it’s that we should do everything in our power to close these loopholes. We all know that if laws were tighter, the shooter in Charleston would not have been able to purchase a gun.”
The Trainwreck star does expect some backlash over fighting for gun control, but she informed the reporters that were present at the conference that she could handle it. The hate would be worth the price and because she, “wants to be proud of how [she’s] living.” All of this makes me even prouder to be a fan of Amy Schumer because having a voice like her’s speaking for the victims and advocating for gun control will no doubt be powerful but will also be incredibly necessary.
When I posted on Facebook my support of Schumer, there was yet another gun control debate in which the gun advocates came out and complained about how stricter gun control will only take away rights and how we’re suggesting regulation out of fear which is perfect. Fear is good, fear will push us into action. People don’t make changes unless they’re scared and not happy with the way things are and I don’t many people who are happy with the way things currently are.
As for taking away rights? Well, what about the victims of gun violence? Their rights were taken away without anyone bothering to ask them. Their right to breathe, their right to live, their right to feel safe in a movie or at their own school? The families of these victims lost the right to see their loved ones, to watch their six-year-old open a gift on Christmas or watch their kid graduate high school or college or elementary school in the case of Sandy Hook. What about the loved ones of those who were waiting eagerly to hear how their friend liked a movie? The victims lost their right to live and the families lost their right to touch and feel their loved ones and watch them grow. The right live in peace and feel safe is far more important than the right to own a gun.
People who are saying the there is enough gun control or the background checks are tough enough, well clearly they are not working so if something is not working, then let’s fix it. Does the government have an agenda, of course, we all have agendas. There is not a single person on this planet that does not have an agenda. You wake up in the morning, you’re hungry, your agenda is breakfast. You’re tired late at night, your agenda is going to sleep. So why not change our agenda? Why not fight for those who have been lost? The agenda to the public feel safe again, to finally say it’s enough. That should be our agenda.
Okay, yes, there will be hurdles. People who commit crimes are not necessarily beacons of trust. So maybe identifying those people before they commit mass murder. Teachers and counselors are mandated reporters, report. We should all be mandated reporters. People exhibit signs before they reach that level. People don’t just wake up and go, “hey, you know what would be fun to do today?” Let’s identify people who are suffering, let’s target them and get more mental health funding. If the government wants to raise taxes in order to provide funding, go for it. The argument that government interference is a bad thing is invalid if we’re burying six-year- olds. I have no money, but I will give everything I have so that there will never be another shooting like this.
Enough is enough. We need to make it tougher. Yes, the second amendment is great and all but there are flaws. We are seeing those flaws when we no longer feel safe, we need to fix those flaws. Make it tougher for people to get guns, do diligent background checks and people with mental health issues? Let’s get them the help they need. Increase funding, do whatever it takes. Yes, criminals will find loopholes but if we can do something, if we can make it more difficult and find ways to close the loopholes, maybe it will result in fewer of those moments where we ask why something wasn’t done. Thank you, Amy Schumer and thank you to her cousin, hopefully something will be done.