Gun violence – talk it out

One year, one month and 21 days ago, television screens were constantly stream­ing footage of the catastrophic Sandy Hook Elementary shootings.

Despite the loss and horror, the ordeal did get Americans to have important con­versations on both sides of the political spectrum.

However, one week ago, President Barack Obama marginalized the issue of gun violence via a single-paragraph reference (almost formatted as a transition) in his 2014 State of the Union address last Tuesday.

“Citizenship means standing up for the lives that gun violence steals from us each day…” Obama said before moving on to the topic of U.S. armed forces.

But these conversations are important – not something to be buried with the passing of time. This issue was made especially relevant to Indiana University of Pennsylvania Thursday when student Hayden Warmke (junior, criminology) was shot twice outside of the B&L Properties apartments on Maple Street.

Warmke was dropping off a friend early Thursday when a car followed him into the parking lot, as reported Friday by The Penn.

And gun violence even at other Pennsylvania universities is not uncommon.

Earlier this month, a student was shot at Widener University in Chester, accord­ing to an ABC News article.

But nationally, even a year after the Sandy Hook shootings, public opinion hasn’t changed on expanding gun control laws, but shifted to the backburner of American minds, according to a December 2013 Pew Research Center article.

“[After the Sandy Hook shootings] there was a sense in the country – especially among gun-control supporters – that the tragedy would be different from similar ones in the past and push the nation to action,” the Pew article said. “But ultimately, a sustained change in public opinion did not materialize, and a bill to tighten gun law died in the Senate.”

The bill that died last year would have required background checks before pur­chasing firearms.

“The fight has just begun; it’s not going away,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, according to a 2013 Bloomberg article.

But has the fight dulled? Despite the national and local shooting incidents, gun-control bills are being shot down. Not to mention the leader of our country barely mentioning the issue in the most prominent national address of the year.

On both a local and national level, let’s not wait until the next catastrophe to fire up these important conversations again.

If we keep these discussions alive, we may be that much closer to a bipartisan agreement.