More than three months have passed since a deranged teenager came into my high school and killed more than a dozen of my classmates. Yet the same old discussions keep going on and on and on — despite the fact that the people having these discussions keep saying something needs to change.
Many of the most vocal activists aren't actually interested in change. They continue pushing the same old tired ideas in the same old tired way, but expecting a different response. Their only solution is gun control, which the American people have rejected for decades. They’ve got the media convinced, they’ve got celebrities convinced, and they’ve got billions of dollars at their disposal to saturate social media in ads in hopes that people will become convinced that their ideas are the right approach.
They could not be more wrong.
Americans who educate themselves about mass shootings know that not a single gun control law pushed by left-wing activists would have stopped any of the recent high-profile tragedies. Instead of acknowledging this, or changing their tactic, or coming up with new ideas, the demands from the confiscation crowd just gets louder and louder. Do they not know that shouting is rarely an effective tactic?
The most unfortunate part of the never-ending push for gun control is that it distracts from pursuing real solutions. There are things we can do to reduce and prevent these atrocities from happening. But it doesn't involve taking firearms away from people who never have, and never will, commit a crime.
We need to get real about mental health care in this country. Affordable, accessible mental health care is essential. A person who would inflict the level of terror we’ve seen so far is sick — and he needs help. Yet, in America, it’s hard to get help. Access to mental health care needs to be easy, affordable, and prioritized.
We all need to be educated on the warning signs of a person in crisis. The refrain is the same after each one of these incidents — the shooter was a loner, someone who scared people, a person who was already on police radar. It’s only practical that we educate communities on recognizing the signs of an at-risk person, and teach them actionable steps to take.
We should take school security seriously. Gun-free zone signs don’t help. It’s absurd to think that they do. We protect our state houses, our sporting venues, and our concert halls with security. Why don’t we do the same for our children?
We should fully implement the recently enacted FIX NICS legislation. This would help ensure that people who shouldn’t have guns can’t get them. Everyone agrees that dangerous people shouldn’t have firearms, yet the system we use to keep that from happening has holes. This legislation has been signed into law and now needs to be implemented.
The media should be held accountable. There is no reason why broadcasters should splash the name and face of a mass murderer over their screens for days on end — that's giving him exactly what he wanted. They can report the news without using his name, without showing his face, and without giving him the type of coverage he believes makes him infamous. While the government should not be mandating this, each news outlet and journalist should take this on themselves.
This debate is not about confiscating AR-15s from the millions of law-abiding people who use them safely and responsibly every day. Confiscating those firearms would do nothing to address the breakdown in our culture. We need real solutions, and I’ve just listed five. I hope, in the future, we can broaden the conversation and talk about the complexity of this issue — rather than blaming lawful gun owners. The reason nothing has changed is because the only actionable solution put forth has been firearm regulation. It’s time America’s politicians and thought-leaders get real about the problem at hand, and start looking at solutions that can actually work.
Kyle Kashuv is the Director of High-School outreach for Turning Point USA and a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He has become an outspoken gun rights advocate since the horrific tragedy that happened at his high school on February 14. Kyle has been able to successfully lobby congress and the president to pass "STOP School Violence Act" and "Fix NICS." You can follow him on Twitter @KyleKashuv