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On Sunday, June 12, 2016, roughly 50 people were killed, and another 53 more were injured in an attack on a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. In October 2018, a hateful individual named Robert Bowers set the societal shooting wheel in motion once more when he walked into a Pittsburgh synagogue and opened fire on members of the congregation. Bowers killed eight men and three women inside the Tree of Life Synagogue during Shabbat services on Saturday morning, and following a gunfight with Pittsburgh police and SWAT officers, he was captured. 

How many more people need to become victimsof mass shootings before lawmakers finally decide that “thoughts and prayers” are no stronger than an innocent civilian standing in the line of fire? In the United States, mass shootings are actually the most common and most closely tacked type of mass casualty event. According to the Congressional Research Service, mass shootings are events where more than four people are killed with a firearm within one event, and in one or more locations in close proximity. There were 66 public shootings between 1999 and 2013, but in 2017, there were more mass shootings than days in the year. 

Earlier this morning, an individual decided to inflict hatred and harm on people praying at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 49 innocent civilians in the process. Unlike America, New Zealanders do not have any legal nor constitutionally-supported right to own guns, and the island nation has strong laws applying to firearms for those allowed to own and operate.

Having said that, the Small Arms Survey, which records estimated gun ownership around the world, says that New Zealand has more than 1.2 million civilian-owned firearms. By comparison, Americans own as many as 400 million firearms — nearly half of all civilian-owned guns around the world — even though America represents roughly 5% of the world’s population. 

The most bone-chilling aspect of this mass shooting is that it seems like the entire attack was intentionally performed as a social media stunt. A video of the attack has been circulating around the internet since the shooting take place, and prior to the attack, an anonymous message was posted on 8chan, a sort-of lawless message board where people post racist, abhorrent content in the name of free speech. The anonymous post included an 87-page manifesto which detailed the plans of the shooting, as well as a link to the planned live stream of the attack. What began as a perceived attempt at “trolling” ended up being a genuine plan for killing a large amount of people. 

In the shooter’s manifesto, the alleged shooter credits several white supremacists who committed mass shootings in the name of nationalism. The shooter speaks to one character in particular, Candace Owens, a popular far-right person. 

“Each time she spoke I was stunned be her insights and her own vies helped push me further and further into the belief of violence over meekness. Though I will have to disavow some of her beliefs, the extreme actions she calls for are too much, even for my tastes.”

“Brenton Tarrant”

After every mass shooting, the media takes the haunting details of the recent massacre and initiates two to three days of in-depth analysis, interviews with neighbors who knew victims, and commentary on responses and tweets made by prominent political figures. The protestors protest, gun lovers respond using the timeless “people kill people” rhetoric and nothing changes. I cannot stand to see more people get killed because, globally, we choose to remain ignorant. It is no longer a luxury that we can take, we need to take action to protect people, no matter their creed, race, or color, from attacks like this. 

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