Congress finally did something to stop gun violence. Something ridiculous.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

It’s been about three weeks since Nikolas Cruz stormed into the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15 rifle and killed 17 people.

The Parkland shooting placed student survivors center stage in the latest national debate about gun violence in America. After a series of brave demonstrations and town halls demanding accountability from the NRA and lawmakers, a group of senators are actually reintroducing a bipartisan bill to curb gun violence.

The “Terrorist Firearms Prevention Act,” also known as the “No Fly, No Buy” bill, is sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.). The bill was first introduced in 2016 — by Senate Democrats — after Omar Mateen, who was on the terrorism watch list for 10 months and was still able to purchase a firearm, opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando.


Now, in response to the Parkland shooting, the bill is making its way through Congress once again. The legislation in question would prohibit people on the Transportation Security Administration’s “No Fly” list from buying a gun. At first glance, the bill sounds reasonable — right?

Photo via Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

But here’s the thing: The bill would not have prevented Cruz — or any other recent mass shooters — from purchasing his firearm and subsequently unleashing bloodshed.

While lawmakers reintroduced the gun control measure in response to the backlash from  the shooting, the bill does not apply to Cruz since he was never on a no-fly list.

In January, according to the New York Times, the FBI received word that Cruz had purchased a firearm and had been discussing about plotting a school shooting. The anonymous tipster told the FBI through a hotline that Cruz has a desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts.” But rather than forward the tip to the Miami FBI office, the bureau ignored it and failed to investigate Cruz.

And since Cruz was never investigated, he was not referred to the Terrorist Screening Center where it holds the no-fly list database. This is hardly the first time either.

Jared Loughner, the man who shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, was not on a terrorism watch list. Adam Lanza, who killed 20 children in the Sandy Hook shooting, was not on the terrorist watch list. Dylann Roof, who killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston, and Robert Dear, who opened fire at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic, were also not on the list.

Photo via Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

And not only does this bill miss the real troubling factors of mass shooters, it's racist.

Instead of devoting time, resources, research and programs addressing domestic violence, toxic masculinity, and white supremacy, (which are all common threads with a long list of white mass shooters in the last four decades) the bill gives credibility to an inherently racist and reckless list that encompasses more than 1.5 million names within the last five years without proper screening and investigation.

It also disproportionately targets people of color. It historically targeted notable civil rights activists like Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali, and Malcolm X. The ACLU has released statements condemning that the majority of individuals in the list are either Arab, South Asian, and/or Muslim — many of which are law-abiding U.S. Citizens. In fact, Dearborn, Michigan, which is one of the most populated Arab neighborhoods in the country, was second — only behind New York City — for the city with the most names on the watch list. One of the people from Dearborn on the list is a 7-month-old baby.

But more than just being racist, the No Fly, No Buy bill strengthens the false belief that the people listed in the list are there for reasonable suspicion or are probable national security threats. It adds further stigma and suspicion on our fellow neighbors — who happen to have darker skin, come from a different country, and/or worship in a different way — without any effective measure to end gun violence.

Photo via Win McNamee/Getty Images.

One bill is never going to end mass shootings.

A gun control bill is like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet hole. It takes a lot more than just introducing a bill. It requires more citizens like Cameron Kasky, a student survivor for the Parkland shooting, to demand lawmakers like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to promise to never accept financial contributions from the NRA. It also requires lawmakers to actually agree and act on that promise.

To end gun violence, law enforcement authorities must place a lot resources into researching and investigating trends of domestic violence and white supremacy. They must also take reports of domestic violence and extremism seriously, not only when it’s perpetrated by a brown and black person. It requires judicial powers to review the legal framework on domestic violence, right-wing extremism, and white supremacy.

But the onus also falls on all of us too. We must continue to take the ills of toxic masculinity seriously and start productive conversations on the matter. We must be active, vocal, and strong in combating the ills of xenophobia, gendered-violence, and white supremacy. And if you can’t do that, then one of the most helpful ways to assist in the fight is simply through donating funds to organizations like the Brady Campaign and signal boost activists like Stoneman Douglas student survivors like Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg. They’re effectively taking a stand for something our previous generations failed to do.

True

In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

1 / 12

Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

Biases, stereotypes, prejudices—these byproducts of the human brain's natural tendency to generalize and categorize have been a root cause of most of humanity's problems for, well, pretty much ever. None of us is immune to those tendencies, and since they can easily slip in unnoticed, we all have to be aware of where, when, and how they impact our own beliefs and actions.

It also helps when someone upends a stereotype by saying or doing something unexpected.

Fair or not, certain parts of the U.S. are associated with certain cultural assumptions, perhaps none more pinholed than the rural south. When we hear Appalachia, a certain stereotype probably pops up in our minds—probably white, probably not well educated, probably racist. Even if there is some basis to a stereotype, we must always remember that human beings can never be painted with such broad strokes.

Enter Tyler Childers, a rising country music star whose old-school country fiddling has endeared him to a broad audience, but his new album may have a different kind of reach. "Long Violent History" was released Friday, along with a video message to his white rural fans explaining the culminating track by the same name. Watch it here:

Keep Reading Show less
True
Back Market

Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

So what's the solution? While no one expects you to stop purchasing new phones, laptops, and other devices, what you can do is consider where you're purchasing them from and how often in order to help improve the planet for future generations.

Keep Reading Show less

The legality of abortion is one of the most polarized debates in America—but it doesn’t have to be.

People have big feelings about abortion, which is understandable. On one hand, you have people who feel that abortion is a fundamental women’s rights issue, that our bodily autonomy is not something you can legislate, and that those who oppose abortion rights are trying to control women through oppressive legislation. On the other, you have folks who believe that a fetus is a human individual first and foremost, that no one has the right to terminate a human life, and that those who support abortion rights are heartless murderers.

Then there are those of us in the messy middle. Those who believe that life begins at conception, that abortion isn’t something we’d choose—and we’d hope others wouldn’t choose—under most circumstances, yet who choose to vote to keep abortion legal.

Keep Reading Show less
@frajds / Twitter

Father Alek Schrenk is known as one of the "9 Priests You Need to Follow on Twitter." He proved his social media skills Sunday night after finding a creepy note on a parked car and weaving a lurid Twitter tale that kept his followers on the edge of their pews.

Father Schrenk was making his nightly walk of the church grounds to make sure everything was fine before retiring to the rectory, when he found a car parked by itself in front of the school.

Curious, he looked inside the car and saw a note that made his "blood run cold" attached to the steering wheel. "Look in trunk!" the note read. What made it extra creepy was that the two Os in "look" had smiley faces.

Keep Reading Show less