Voting for change necessary to stop senseless gun violence

(Bloomington) Herald-Times

Orlando, Florida, can now add its name to the disturbingly growing list of U.S. cities where a mass shooting has occurred. The city also has the dubious distinction of now being the site of the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.

The stories and photos are so similar to previous mass shootings: anguished family members, frightened bystanders, survivors who ran from the carnage, heroes who ran into the mayhem.

The public is outraged. Songs are sung; candles are lit. Facebook, Twitter and other social media light up with posts that we all stand with Orlando.

And there is a call for change, whether it is to tighten the borders or enact laws to tighten up gun laws. Arguments are made that more resources be devoted to helping the mentally ill. Debates rage on what changes are needed to make a difference.

While looking for answers, we often find the holes in the system. Sometimes we learn the shooter was mentally ill, and no one seemed to notice the severity. We learn how easy it is to get a gun. We question the security of venues. How did the Orlando shooter get into the club with an AR-15-style weapon without raising suspicion?

As news of the massacre spread, politicians expressed sorrow and asked for prayers, with many using social media. But when do we decide that a Tweet is not enough? As members of the public, we choose our politicians. That’s the value of voting. Have any of the politicians currently running for office done anything to help stop such madness?

On Dec. 14, 2012, Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7 years old. Those children had parents who thought their children were safe in their classrooms in Newtown, Connecticut. Lanza proved us wrong. He showed us that no matter where we are or what we are doing, we’re all at risk.

Rightfully, we were outraged by Lanza’s attack on children — innocent people who had barely begun life were gone. But the outrage never seemed to spur any kind of action. If the snuffing out of their young innocent lives wasn’t enough to make changes, when will we be spurred to vote for the change we so desperately call for in the days following a shooting?

In Orlando, the target was a gay nightclub where people gathered to have a good time. The suspect, Omar Mateen, managed to kill 49 people before he died in a shootout with police. But when the dust settles from this massacre and the bodies are buried, what changes will we demand from our politicians? When will we decide to vote for the change we need?

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association.