Only in America can one buy a high-capacity weapon such as the Sig Sauer MCX .223-caliber semi-automatic rifle, a weapon of destruction that comes with an adjustable stock, or handle, that allows its wielder to fold it up and carry it in a compact manner.
That exact gun was Omar Mateen’s weapon of choice, one of the two he carried on his person when he entered Orlando’s famous gay bar and nightclub, Pulse, and proceeded to take the lives of 49 individuals and injure another 53. On that night, June 12, 2016, America saw both its most violent mass shooting and the deadliest incident targeting members of the LGBTQ+ community. Only two days prior to the Pulse shooting, Christina Grimmie, a participant on the show The Voice, was shot and killed on the day of her performance, a tragedy which also occurred in Orlando. Amidst the terror, the shock, and the immeasurable pain, the shooting sparked an all-too familiar debate: gun control.
Some thought that the solution to the problem at hand is, simply put, to allow for more guns–fighting fire with fire. Others want something very different: to add more limitations on the sale of guns. Billboard created a public platform through their Open Letter to Congress where influential artists such as Lady Gaga, Nick Jonas, Katy Perry, Alicia Keys, and some 180 more share in their belief that gun laws need to be changed for the sake of public safety.
Billboard’s letter says that “it is far too easy to for dangerous people to get their hands on guns,” and calls for background checks on potential buyers and barricades on suspected terrorists from buying guns to safeguard the lives of innocent people. The power behind the letter does not lie within the words of the short petition, but rather it lies in the collaboration between the most influential individuals in popular culture. Musicians have the ability to deliver a message through mass media at an incredibly efficient rate, and it is promising to see them work together to help encourage a shift in societal thinking, and, hopefully, a positive response from Congress itself.