On April 20, 1999, two high school seniors, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold arrived at their Colorado school armed to the teeth with firearms and explosives, and commenced with a massacre that ended in the death of 12 students (including the shooters themselves) and a teacher, and left 21 others injured.
According to the non-partisan think tank, Think Progress, since Columbine, there have been 31 mass shootings in the United States; eight of them happened in 2012 alone. Each time one of these horrendous shootings takes place, excuses are offered on why it has happened, ranging from violence in video games and television to problems with the mental health system.
However, it is not until recently, with the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct. last month, that the U.S. has decided to seriously look at the guns themselves as a cause of the problem; officials are starting to take steps to reduce gun violence.
According to the Harvard Injury Control Research Center at the Harvard School of Public Health, â€œWhere there are more guns there is more homicide.â€ It also found that â€œa broad array of evidence indicates that gun availability is a risk factor for homicide, both in the United States and across high-income countries. Case-control studies, ecological time-series and cross-sectional studies indicate that in homes, cities, states and regions in the US, where there are more guns, both men and women are at higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide.â€
So if increased gun ownership leads to an increase of homicides, we should be taking steps to decrease the number of firearms owned by individuals, starting with the most dangerous of them all: military style assault weapons.
Right now is the time to take those steps. On Jan. 16, President Barack Obama asked Congress to pass a law reinstating the federal assault weapons ban, which in 2004, President George W. Bush and Congress allowed to expire, once again permitting gun stores to sell military grade weapons to the public.
Although anti-gun control activists claim that the assault weapons ban had no effect in curbing gun violence, a study done for the U.S. Department of Justice â€œAn Updated Assessment of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban: Impacts on Gun Markets and Gun Violence, 1994-2003â€ warned of dire consequences if the ban were lifted.
â€œIt is likely that gun and magazine manufacturers will reintroduce assault weapon models and large capacity magazines, perhaps in substantial numbers,â€ it said. â€œIn addition, AWs grandfathered under the 1994 law may lose value and novelty, prompting some of their lawful owners to sell them in secondary markets, where they may reach criminal users. Any resulting increase in crimes with AWs and LCMs might increase gunshot victimizations, though this effect could be difficult to discern statistically. It is also possible, and perhaps probable, that new AWs and LCMs will eventually be used to commit mass murder.â€
If the government reinstates the ban, it would be getting off the streets weapons designed for warfare, weapons that are designed to kill massive numbers of people and not for use of self-defense and hunting. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, firearms are more often used to intimidate people rather than in self-defense.
According to an Associated Press poll, 58 percent of Americans are in favor of a ban on these kinds of weapons.
With a strong showing of public support, letâ€™s put into place gun control laws that are sensible so that everyone can support and take on the problem at the heart of the matter.