The Prowler

Something Is Wrong When a War Zone Is Safer Than a Church

Noam Haykeen, Prowler Columnist

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During the 2006 Lebanon War, my family and I visited our friends in Kfar Vradim, a village located in northern Israel within close proximity to the Lebanese border. Each time the sirens went off, we would enter the bomb shelter. It was frightening. I was only 6 years old.

I remember hearing gunshots in the distance. One bullet after another. It sounded as if 1,000 bullets were being fired every minute. I was so scared that my mother told me the soldiers were just practicing.

They weren’t.

The same terrifying sound of bundled gunshots is currently heard on the streets of our country. The Colt AR-15 semi-automatic rifle has been used for an absurd amount of mass shootings: Aurora, Sandy Hook, Umpqua CC, San Bernardino, Las Vegas and most recently in Sutherland Springs. When a legal add-on is attached to the AR-15, according to Slate, it is able to fire 900 rounds per minute.

The AR-15 is a military-style weapon. Its purpose is to kill as many people in a short time span.

It staggers me that in America, presumably a country that strives to protect its citizens, people are allowed to freely carry this form of weapon. The Second Amendment’s purpose is to enable individuals to protect themselves from the government; its objective is not to cost thousands of innocent lives annually.

Shockingly, in America, individuals who are too dangerous to fly on planes are not too threatening to purchase firearms. And mind-blowingly, people in most states are also able to purchase firearms at gun shows without undergoing background checks — the so-called “gun show loophole.”

America is allowing people with criminal, violent backgrounds to purchase firearms that end lives. Without strict background checks, we are setting this country to endure repeated catastrophes.

In February, President Trump signed a bill that made it easier for people with mental illnesses to purchase firearms. Make no mistake: Trump’s decision puts lives in direct danger, and it is all to benefit the National Rifle Association (NRA).

In the 2016 election cycle, the NRA donated $5.9 million to Republicans. With such sums of money on the line, Republicans do everything for the NRA’s success — even if it ends lives.

The time has come for Republican legislators to start being on the American people’s side. Too many people are unnecessarily murdered on our streets. Believing that the mentally ill should not own guns is not deranged. Striving for everyone to undergo background checks before purchasing firearms is not demented. Advocating to ban assault weapons is not ludicrous.

Common sense gun control laws must be created. Will they stop all shootings? No. But they will reduce the amount of mass murders we have in this country. According to the Center for American Progress, for example, the 10 states with the weakest gun-control laws have three times more gun violence than the states with the strictest legislation.

The American mass-shootings phenomenon is anything but ordinary. Our gun homicide rate is 25 times higher than that of other countries with high income.

So I am calling on Republican lawmakers’ constituents to do everything in their power to persuade their representatives and senators to support the Democrats’ Nov. 8 bill, which will ban assault weapons, bump stocks and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

On average, guns kill 36 people in America daily. People should not lose their lives because the NRA has bought the Republican Party. Our streets should not resemble that of a war zone.

Shootings in this country cannot become the “new normal.” I do not want to fear going in public. I do not want to feel paranoid when entering big crowds. I do not want to be petrified when being in a place of worship. America is beginning to shrug off these shootings, as if they are only notifications on their phone. If less than 10 people are murdered, it is not considered “major” anymore — just another shooting. We have become habituated to these calamities.

Those gunshots I heard when visiting the Middle East still echo in my head. Those noises symbolize death, lives of innocent people taken away.

I was a 6 year old in a war zone, which is far from ideal. But at least I had the bomb shelter as an escape — unlike the eight babies and children in Sutherland Springs, who were murdered in church.

It is a terrible irony that I was safer than they were.

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Something Is Wrong When a War Zone Is Safer Than a Church