“‘No way to prevent this,’ says only nation where this regularly happens.”
This headline from The Onion, a satirical newspaper, perfectly captures gun discourse in America. If we want to properly address the issue of gun violence in America and do justice to its victims, then passing gun control legislation will be a necessity.
Every time a mass shooting occurs, people on both sides of the issue come out of the woods and argue about who’s right, and a few months later everyone moves on. Many pro-gun advocates point to a variety of arguments to defend their right to carry whatever gun they like. “It’s not a gun issue, it’s a mental health issue,” “But what about the second amendment?” “A good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun.”
What most people don’t realize is that mass shootings makeup just a fraction of gun violence in America. According to the Pew Research Center, 6 out of 10 gun deaths are by suicide, and 37 percent through murder. With the majority of gun deaths being self-inflicted, it’s unreasonable to say that gun problems and mental health problems are mutually exclusive. Given the fact that less than 2 percent of firearm applications are rejected, wouldn’t stricter background checks benefit those who are mentally unwell, and the people around them?
When it comes to discussing the 2nd amendment, there are a few things to consider. One is the fact that it was written over 200 years ago, when guns were extremely rudimentary compared to today’s standards. These guns had a weak firing range and could only carry so many rounds. The point is that there is no way the founding fathers could have comprehended the types of firearms that exist today (or anything else in 2021, let’s be real).
So when you have a country that was founded on concepts and ideas over 200 years old, naturally problems will arise as technology improves and how society adapts. On the issue of guns, the United States has consistently proven to be an international outlier. The US is number 1 in gun owning citizens, gun deaths through homicide, and mass shootings. There are more guns in this country than our 330+ million citizens. The amount of gun deaths in other countries pale in comparison to America, with the Washington Post calling the phenomenon a “uniquely American crisis.”
But the most ridiculous argument is that somehow good samaritans can use their guns to kill bad people, an idea that sounds like some 7 year old’s superhero fantasy. Former President Donald Trump has literally called for arming school teachers as a method to defend themselves from active shooters. Take a second and picture your weirdest teacher in high school with a gun. If that’s not enough, here’s a little thought experiment. If adding more guns in the mix equates to more safety, then why isn’t the US the safest country on earth?
But why has such little change been made to address this glaring issue? Well, corruption is one reason. The National Rifle Association has essentially bought the republican party, having donated tens of millions of dollars on republican presidential campaigns, republican senate races, and attack ads against democratic politicians. And unsurprisingly, almost all republicans are against any and all forms of gun control, resulting in almost no gun legislation passing through congress. This has resulted in dangerously low federal regulations, with extremely minimal background checks, no limit to gun purchases, and allowed access to deadly assault rifles.
If America wants this crisis to end, a few things have to be passed. The 2nd amendment should not be abolished, but like any piece of legislation, the rules need to make sense and catch up with the modern world. Universal background checks and mental health screenings should be required. The idea that people can buy deadly weapons with little to no regulation is ridiculous. Another policy that needs to be implemented is an assault weapon and high capacity magazine ban. Not all guns are created equal. Having a one-size-fits-all approach to gun policy has only resulted in thousands of deaths.
These are just a few policies out of many that can mitigate the damage caused by gun violence. They won’t fix everything, but they’re a step in the right direction. The past ten years have been filled with gun violence, with 2020 being the worst year yet. Passing reasonable gun legislation will undoubtedly save countless lives. Our laws need to accurately reflect the era we live in, and gun control is one of them.
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