On November 7, 2018, shortly after 11:00 P.M., a lone gunman opened fire at Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California.Patrons initially thought the gunshots were fireworks, or sound effects, before realizing the depth of danger they were in. Within seconds, people dropped to the ground, hid under pool tables, escaped through broken windows, and even ran out the front door, where the shooter had entered only moments before.
Wednesdays at Borderline Bar & Grill, a popular country themed night for college students, has been permanently marred as in just under three minutes, Ian David Long, killed 12 victims before taking his own life. Among the dead was a survivor of the Las Vegas shooting, a Sheriff, a college freshman, and an Army recruit. Thousand Oaks, California is now marked as the site for the 307th mass shooting in 2018 alone.
Authorities continue to speculate on what Long’s motives truly were. The 28-year old, who served in Afghanistan, has been plagued with mental health issues, reportedly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression. Despite police having multiple run-ins with Long, he legally purchased the .45-caliber handgun.The Thousand Oaks shooting has reignited a nationwide discussion on gun violence, and gun control, one the shooter has questioned himself. It appears around the time of the attack, Long posted a chilling Facebook status:
“I hope people call me insane… wouldn’t that just be a big ball of irony? Yeah, I’m insane, but the only thing you people can do after these shooting is ‘hopes and prayers’… or ‘keep you in my thoughts’… every time… and wonder why these keep happening”.
The Thousand Oaks shooting, along with Long’s own statement, marks a need for greater discussion on gun control, a discussion that will hopefully accompany greater measures taken by the United States to prevent similar atrocities from occurring with such regularity. Over the last decade, a number of horrific mass shootings have taken place including, the Sandy Hook shooting, Las Vegas shooting, and Stoneman Douglas High School shooting; Congress remains silent. Over 13,000 Americans have died due to gun violence in 2018. To put that in perspective, on 9/11, 2,996 people were killed, and within two months, the Transportation Security Administration was created, and extensive security checks at airports were implemented nationwide. It is evident the American people have bonded together to promote safety before, and with over 13,000 Americans dead due to gun violence in a single year, why do we find it is so difficult now?
Gun control remains to be a partisan issue, one that Congress and the American people alike have proved incapable to bond together, and effect change on. In order for proper measures to be taken, gun control must be perceived as a bipartisan issue. In order for that to happen, the National Rifle Organization needs a rival worth reckoning with. The NRA continues to spend more money influencing politics than nearly every non-profit organization in the United States, which is a compelling force for politicians hesitant to support gun control. On top of that, the NRA has immense grass-roots support, their 5 million members a true force in gun lobbying.
To truly rival the NRA, the American people must give birth to their own grass roots movement, one that supports gun control, and is supported by the masses. The movement, which could be named the Gun Control Association (GCA), would be funded by individual donations, similar to Barack Obama’s campaign. The faces of the association would be notable survivors of the Las Vegas shooting, Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, and now the Thousand Oaks shooting to give the association impactful branding. The GCA’s main goals would be to rival the NRA’s financial support of politicians, donating to Democrat and Republican individual campaigns alike. On top of that, their mission would be to pass legislation to ban bump stocks, enforce strict background checks, enforce gun magazine size restrictions and ban AR-15 style weapons. Although there is no simple solution to gun violence, steps must be taken, and the American people must bond together once again to fight for our lives and safety.