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Mass Shootings: Insert City Name Here

Below is a previously unpublished writing sample I originally wrote as part of a job application. The prompt asked me to write about a current issue, and at the time, the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando made headlines. 


Pray for <insert city name here>.

The phrase has been so overused in the media. Pray for Aurora. Pray for Newtown. Pray for 

San Bernardino. Pray for Charleston. Today, the city name that goes inside those brackets is Orlando.

These shootings are getting out of hand. As of today, June 12, there have been 134 shootings this year (Gun Violence Archive). Keep in mind that according to their website, this is not a complete list because “unfortunately, [they] must limit result sets for the general public.”

Also keep in mind that as of today, June 12, there have only 164 days in the year. That means 81.7 percent of the year was filled with news of a shooting. It also means that America has a shooting once every 1.2 days.

1.2 days. That’s almost every day. Every day that a mother loses her son. A father loses his daughter. A child loses a parent. The list goes on and on.

And every day as soon as the news of a shooting breaks, social media blows up with forms of “pray for <insert city name here>.” Tweets. Posters of protestors. Graphics of the city skyline with the hashtag “pray for <insert city name here>.”

All anyone ever says these days is “pray for <insert city name here>.”

But at this point, does “pray for <insert city name here>” actually do anything?

Well yes, it helps people come together in times of need. And yes, it offers support. And yes, it does force politicians to come forward with a public statement. But we’re not getting to the root of the problem. The root is gun control.

Now don’t start getting upset with me and defend the second amendment. The amendment is written in our Constitution and should be here to stay. But based on an absurd number of tragic events involving a gun, something has to change.

Purchasing a gun is too easy. In fact, today I was listening to a story from an uncle who said the process to get a license and purchase a gun didn’t take long at all. He was surprised and said his background check “only took about half an hour to complete.”

Half an hour. That’s it? You would think it would be a lengthy, paperwork-filled process to check everything ranging from your criminal record to your family ties. You would think the process would take weeks at least.

We need laws that carefully scrutinize the buyer. We need laws that really dig into personal history. Can someone please explain to me why Omar Mateen, a man who was interviewed twice by the FBI for “expressing sympathy for a suicide bomber” (CNN), managed to purchase a gun mere days before the Orlando shooting?

In my opinion, if anyone has ever been interviewed for the FBI for an issue like that, they should be placed on a watch list. Immediately.

So yes, we need stricter laws like what the people of America have been asking our government for years now.

But when will politicians take action?

Please save another 134 cities from the dreaded tagline of “pray for <insert city name here>.” Because at this point, the phrase has become so overused that it’s starting to become meaningless.

And the loss of life is far from meaningless.