In history and government classes, we may have learned about the fight for women's suffrage, the fight for African American's civil rights, and the milestones the United States has achieved in becoming less discriminatory and more open-minded.
But now, it seems like we are entering a new era, an era at risk of being defined by hatred for minorities, pushback on progressive policies, and steadfast clinging to a significantly worse version of the past. What may be "wistful reminiscence" to some is others' suffering and death. "Others" encompasses people from women who face sexism, minorities who face racism, the LGTBQ community that faces homophobia and more, and generally, anyone with any semblance of a heart.
With every mass shooting, emboldened conservatives have taken an increasingly stronger stance on gun rights. Some may even make the argument that because of the mass shootings, it is more important than ever to own guns for self-protection. But that doesn't solve the gun violence problem -- having more guns in the hands of civilians just perpetrates the problem.
With every mass shooting, it appears as though people with malicious intent are also becoming more empowered, inspired by the gun homicides that preceded the ones they will commit, relieved that because of the strong gun lobby, gun restrictions will not prevail.
And they are rational for their faith in the strong gun lobby, because gun restrictions have not prevailed. In the U.S., we quickly arrest people for marijuana possession where it is illegal, but we legally allow the purchase of semiautomatic weapons, which is essentially a "civilian version of a military machine gun."
Four years ago, the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was thought to be the tipping point. A teary-eyed President Obama addressed the nation. "We can't accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?" But four years later, it has become abundantly clear that gun homicides are no longer a surprise, just a part of the routine.
Teary-eyed Obama is not a one-time occurrence, but a regular guest on the horrific show that is gun violence. And the show that is gun violence is not at foreseeable risk of being cancelled; the seasons just go on and on. I recently turned 21 years old and have already lived through eight of the 10 deadliest U.S. mass shootings from 1984 to 2016. Of the 10 deadliest U.S. mass shootings within the 32-year timeframe, 50 percent of them occurred within four years.
As a nation, we protect guns and the right to own them more than we protect victims of hate crime and rape, minorities, and transgenders. We protect inanimate objects designed to kill, animated by anyone who can get their hands on them -- an easily-achievable task, given the laughably lax U.S. gun laws.
Why can't we be more like European countries like the United Kingdom, where private citizens cannot legally obtain handguns, or Finland, where "handgun license applications are only allowed to purchase firearms if they can prove they are active members of regulated shooting clubs?" The reason is because the insufferable "American Ego" will not permit that.
It is especially unfortunate that the epitome of the American Ego is the presumptive Republican nominee, a dangerous cartoon character who continues to spread hateful rhetoric and mobilize the masses with the vision of narrow-minded bigotry.
Following the Orlando shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub, it is disrespectful to simply send well wishes to the victims and their families and friends, while completely dismissing the LGBTQ community and gun control. Most Republicans have done exactly that -- they failed to acknowledge the LGBTQ community and gun control.
The path forward is not to be blinded by Islamophobia and let that discrimination guide how we, as a nation, handle gun violence. The path forward is not to coddle assault weapons like teddy bears.