Being from the religious state of Kentucky, my Facebook news feed has been flooded with people praying for the victims of this week’s terrorist attack in Colorado and praying that something like this never happens again.
These are the same people that prayed Columbine and Virginia Tech would never happen again, that Fort Hood would never happen again, and that the Arizona attack on Gaby Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) would never happen again. Yet, this week’s terrorist attack shows us that simply praying doesn’t really do anything to prevent these types of attacks in the future, which is why America must take concrete steps to diminish our fetish with guns and violence.
Before I dive deeper into this, I want to clarify something. I call this week’s shooting spree in Auora a terrorist attack because, by definition, that’s what it was. However, in the United States, it’s nearly impossible to be called a terrorist if you don’t have brown skin and you’re not a Muslim. Since 9/11, there has been nationwide anti-mosque activity reported in over half the states, including several instances of arson, fire bombs, and attempted attacks of mosques here in the U.S. Yet, never do you hear these attacks being referred to as “terrorist” attacks, which is exactly what they are. Instead, Americans have co-opted the word and refer to anyone who acts against U.S.'s interests in pursuit of our failed “war on terror” as a “terrorist.”
Now, what concrete action can we take right now that makes sense? Renew the Assault Weapons Ban. This ban on assault weapons wouldn’t be the first time in the United States such measure is implemented. In 1994, Congress passed a 10-year ban on assault weapons, but that law expired in 2004 and efforts to renew it since have failed. It should come as no surprise that before he flip-flopped, Mitt Romney used to support a ban on assault weapons saying, “I believe the people should have the right to bear arms, but I don’t believe that we have to have assault weapons as part of our personal arsenal.”
Now, I understand that the killer used other guns that were not assault weapons; but I don’t think that undermines the necessity of prohibiting the use of such weapons. I would go into many more ways of how we could strengthen our gun control laws in this country, but that will have to wait until we can all agree with the 2004 Mitt Romney that we don’t really need to be legally buying and owning assault weapons (although I don’t think I’ll ever agree that we need personal arsenals – in the words of Kurt Vonnegut on guns -- “I wouldn’t have one of the motherfuckers in my house for anything”).
As Americans, we have made light of what guns actually do: kill people. Instead of “praying” that gun violence stops, it’s time we actually do something about it.
“Praying” for a Real Response to the Colorado Terrorist Attack