GUN CONTROL CONUNDRUM AND PUERTO RICAN PAIN

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It has happened again; someone with a huge cache of guns deliberately executed (at press time) 59 people who were attending a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada.  At least 527 people were injured in the attack.

The white male shooter, who has yet to be called a “terrorist” because no “political” motive has been identified, is 64-year-old Stephen Paddock. He is being portrayed as a “lone wolf assassin.” This, however, is odd, since at the outset it is alleged that the terrorist group ISIS took credit for the attacks. For some reason, that has changed and there is no more mention of their involvement.

Paddock, a wealthy gambler, has supposedly not been known to be political, which is throwing people into a tizzy. They are looking for a motive. He had more than 40 weapons, and had modified semi-automatic rifles in such a manner that they worked as automatic weapons. And as true in so many of these situations, the shooter was allegedly found dead as a result of suicide when the SWAT team broke into his room in the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

As a result of this horrible situation, there are renewed calls for gun control. This is a complex issue. For one, the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms. This means that citizens should be able to possess weapons, and lately, because of rising issues of mass gun violence and crime, a conceal carry movement has grown by leaps and bounds.

The gun issue is also problematic because the main reasons citizens carry guns is to kill people, or to protect themselves from other people who want to shoot or kill them! Most gun owners are not hunters. What all of this means is that the United States is on the verge of turning back into the “wild, wild west.”

The rationale given by those who advocate carrying guns is that it will deter would-be criminals and wrongdoers from shooting others. The sad fact, however, is that no policies or procedures could have been in place to prevent what happened in Las Vegas.

This Las Vegas tragedy is just the latest in a series of traumatic events facing American citizens. People are still reeling from hurricane Harvey, and on its heels, hurricane Maria, which has devastated Puerto Rico.

Many citizens are angry because President Donald Trump seemed less able to adequately deal with the Puerto Rican tragedy. Most of the island is without clean water and 95% are without electricity. This has caused the loss of life, especially among those who relied on medicines and life support. Unbelievably, when the Mayor of San Juan reached out to the mainland for support, President Trump picked a fight with her alleging that they were not doing enough to help themselves.

Like with hurricane Katrina, it has taken a long time for relief to arrive from the U.S. Trump actually said that the 16 people who lost their lives so far in Puerto Rico pale in comparison to the thousands who lost their lives in hurricane Katrina! And though 95% of the island is still without power, Trump said that the power grid was devastated before the hurricane hit.

He also said that the Puerto Rican problem has thrown the U.S. budget out of whack!!!  This could not have been more unpresidential; but more importantly, it demonstrates an incredible level of insensitivity that would not be expected from a sitting U.S. president.

Chiefly, President Trump seems less concerned about the people of Puerto Rico, who are experiencing unprecedented devastation, than what would be expected from a true leader.

Many people are saying that his attitude is influenced by the fact the Puerto Ricans are people of color, and because of this, he is only mildly concerned. This is in keeping with the perception that he is racist. Whatever the case, the Las Vegas shootings happened in such a moment that it has taken some of the attention away from the dire situation in Puerto Rico.

Though back to back trauma is visiting America we must not lose sight of those in Puerto Rico who need our help and our prayers. We must rise up and help each other, even while wrestling with the notion of having to consider carrying a gun. A Luta Continua!

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