Opinion: Congress needs to do its job


Ashley Atherton is a junior political science major and columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

Ashley Atherton

The fact that mass shootings in the United States are a normal part of our culture is wrong on so many levels. There have been more shootings than days in the U.S. this year alone. We hadn’t finished talking about the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting that killed three people before another happened in San Bernardino.

After each mass shooting that happens in this country the following rhetoric is the same. President Obama has gone on national television to make a statement on mass shootings more than a dozen times in his presidency. His statements, as usual, call for better gun safety laws and fixing the loopholes in current gun laws.

The presidential candidates from both parties each weighed in as well: the Democratic candidates each calling for stricter gun laws while the Republicans said “thoughts and prayers” to the families and victims.

The biggest difference, I would like to point out, is the fact that the democratic candidates each made some sort of statement about change being necessary to prevent more of these routine shootings, while the republicans sent out their condolences. I’m not saying thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed. They are a lovely sentiment. People welcome that and it is not something that shouldn’t be said. But that’s all they are: sentiments. Sentiments don’t stop mass shootings in this country, actions do.

The New York Daily News said it best: God isn’t fixing this. I believe the point of that article is to call out those who only send thoughts and prayers and do nothing more to stop the constant senseless gun violence. The main point of this front page is prayers are a good thing, but it won’t do anything without action by its side. We need a solution.

Obama isn’t the problem and nor are the presidential candidates; Congress is. Congress is the group in the United States that has the ability to—and the responsibility to—take action.

Congress is a complete mess. I’m not referring to just one party; I’m referring to both. Democrats and Republicans love to talk a big game but not actually act on their word. Congress continues to block any type of gun safety legislation—even if it has to do with terrorism. It happened again this week. Members of Congress from both sides of the isle blocked legislation that was tied to gun control and Obamacare. Why? Because they are either facing reelection in the upcoming year and they don’t want to lose votes because of Obamacare or gun control.

Congress needs to put their selfishness and differences aside, do their job and act on the violence that is an “exceptionally American problem.” It’s time for Congress to act instead of continue to let history repeat itself.

Ashley Atherton is an opinion writer for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].