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People lose sight of the bigger picture when mass shootings occur.

Gun owners and non-owners sound off their views on the internet to a great extent with little to no common ground. If we were to look at a Venn diagram between the two groups, mutual understanding would barely overlap. Further, conspiracies about multiple shooters in Las Vegas or debating about what is statistically the worst mass shooting in U.S. history is pointless. Let’s focus on the fact that dozens of people got murdered by a domestic terrorist who managed to smuggle an armory of military-style rifles into his hotel room.

Our opinions are divided about banning guns versus preserving the right to keep and bare arms. Politicians understand this dichotomy well and use public opinion to leverage their gun policies. The fruitless arguments stop over a short period of time and we fall back to a desensitized state. Sure enough, another mass shooting breaks out and gun control becomes the hot topic of discussion again.

Nothing effective is being done about gun violence when we offer our warmest condolences or disagree with each other on social media. Real change comes from taking action. Stricter gun laws won’t eradicate violence, but the permissive policies we have now aren’t stopping our mass shootings epidemic.

“It’s important to note that people’s beliefs about the causes of mass shootings are one thing; the reality can be quite another,” said Tania Lombrozo, contributor to Cosmos and Culture NPR blog. “Policies should be informed by what we know about what actually does and doesn’t reduce gun violence, not by surveys of what people believe.”

Gun owners and non-owners should engage with policy makers starting in their community. Attend town hall meetings and speak up. If each city takes persistent action to change gun laws, our nation may have a better chance of reducing mass shootings. We are the constituents of real change.

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