Alya Mehrtash staff writer
The Trump administration has finally taken a small step in the right direction with its plan to ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes. This ban, however, also highlights another prevalent question in American society today: Why haven’t they done the same to address gun violence in America?
In the past few months, there has been a rise in vaping-related illnesses and deaths that sparked a response from the White House. As of Oct. 9, 2019, 24 people have lost their lives to such illnesses. A study conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine showed that over one in four surveyed 12th graders had vaped at least once in the previous 30 days.
These statistics are terrifying. Far too many people, especially teenagers, are jeopardizing their health for something that can essentially harm one’s body. The vaping-related death toll continues to rise, and this is an issue that needed to be addressed immediately.
According to the New York Times, President Donald Trump acknowledged the impact that the vaping culture has on young people in a meeting in the Oval Office. “We can’t allow people to get sick. And we can’t have our kids be so affected,” he said.
While I like the Vaping alternative to Cigarettes, we need to make sure this alternative is SAFE for ALL! Let’s get counterfeits off the market, and keep young children from Vaping!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2019
Trump is right. No American should have to deal with these health issues. But no American should have to live in fear of being a victim of another shooting either. Yet many American children go to school scared that they may be the next victim of a mass school shooting.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have already been 327 mass shootings in America in the first 282 days of 2019. Based on the pattern of the statistic, it’s unfortunately very improbable that that number will not rise in the next day. In other words, it is incredibly reasonable for Americans to fear for their safety due to the ever-increasing presence of gun violence.
Trump and his administration should be applauded for their action against the vaping epidemic, but they should simultaneously be berated for their continuous failure to address gun violence in America with anything but empty “thoughts and prayers.” Time and time again, Trump and many Republicans in power have failed to acknowledge the severity of the gun violence epidemic that plagues this nation.
Over 30,000 Americans have died from gun-violence-related incidents in 2019 alone, and the Trump Administration has done little to nothing to amend this crisis. Yet, 24 Americans have died from vaping and the administration has already sounded the alarms and prepared to go to war against that which they view as deleterious against the public. Nevertheless despite the fact that gun violence kills more Americans than vaping-related incidents does, many politicians in power have failed to fix this issue in the slightest bit.
In February, the House of Representatives passed the Bipartisan Checks Act of 2019, which advocated for universal background checks for all gun purchases. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has blocked the bill from reaching the Senate floor, therefore essentially preventing further gun reform to even be voted on by the Senate, let alone passed.
This, to be quite frank, is absurd. The Bipartisan Checks Act of 2019 is simply one way to effectively fight the gun violence epidemic that we face in this nation today. However, many in power, such as Trump and McConnell, refuse to address it with the same care and urgency as the White House’s handling of the vaping epidemic.
One of the biggest explanations to this issue revolves around money. Politicians, most of whom are Republicans, tend to receive much more money from pro-gun lobbying groups, such as the National Rifle Association (NRA), compared to what they recieve from vaping companies like JUUL Labs. In the 2018 election cycle, the NRA spent approximately five million dollars in lobbying, while JUUL Labs spent about $1.6 million. Politicians are supposed to advocate for American’s best interests, but the unfortunate truth is that time and time again, they place a higher priority on monetary and personal political gain.
Americans need to make their voices heard, and soon. Senators will listen to their constituents if enough of them rally together to advocate for a common cause. The gun violence epidemic is an issue that all Americans need to fight against. The Trump administration has taken the right steps in addressing the vaping epidemic. It’s time to make sure they do the same for gun violence.