At a mere 20 years old, I’ve already lived through the nation’s five deadliest mass shootings in modern history. Two of which, Las Vegas and Texas, only occurred within the last few months. Seeing instances of gun violence splashed across the pages of newspapers has become a constant fixture throughout my life and the lives of Americans everywhere.
After every latest mass shooting, American citizens and politicians take to social media to offer up hollow sympathies, yet efforts for actual gun reform continue to stagnate. We shouldn’t honor gun violence victims with “thoughts and prayers.” We should honor gun violence victims with action. We should honor them by taking steps to ensure that no one else has to suffer the same fate.
Unfortunately, action is always inevitably halted by illogical rhetoric against gun control measures. These arguments are no more than excuses for valuing gun ownership over human lives. Propagated by political interests like the National Rifle Association, the same fallacies are reiterated over and over.
“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
A popular aphorism among pro-gun debaters, this statement doesn’t really prove anything. Obviously guns don’t anthropomorphize and go on shooting sprees by themselves, but guns make it significantly easier for people to kill one another. Guns allow anyone to easily inflict harm no matter their personal strength, size, or proximity to victims. Additionally, the action occurs in a matter of seconds. Unlike other methods of violence, there isn’t time for the assailant to have a change of heart, the victim to fight back or other authorities to intervene in the situation before it becomes fatal.
Another element of this viewpoint is the belief that the problem is mental health, not guns. In response to the Texas shooting, President Trump expressed this notion at a news conference last Monday, calling the shooter a “very deranged individual,” and deflecting blame away from the nation’s lax gun laws. “This isn’t a guns situation,” he said.
But why can’t both guns and mental health be a problem? There are multiple issues that can be linked to America’s gun violence problem: lack of mental health awareness and adequate healthcare, toxic masculinity, ease of access to guns, a culture of violence, and more. Just because guns aren’t the only cause of concern, that doesn’t mean they aren’t a vital problem that the government should address
Cars and knives are also dangerous.
Some gun advocates protest the focus on gun regulation when other objects, such as cars and knives, also have the capability to cause death and injury. While it’s true that knives can also be used as weapons and many deaths result from automobile accidents, these are false equivalencies. The fact that other inventions are dangerous doesn’t negate the dangers of guns.
Additionally, these objects have explicit functions in our society that we cannot do without. Cars provide transportation. Knives can be used in cooking, carving, eating, you name it. Guns, on the other hand, were created for the sole purpose of inflicting harm. That is their one and only function.
Gun laws will inevitably be broken, so why bother?
Many argue that stricter gun legislation shouldn’t be implemented because it won’t deter criminals. However, the fact that laws won’t always be followed doesn’t mean we should completely forego them. Imagine if the same logic was applied to our laws against theft, homicide, rape, etc. People commit these crimes everyday but we still have legislation against them.
We cannot give up on trying to solve the nation’s gun crisis. Though enacting new legislation will never completely resolve gun violence, if it can in any way lessen the number of incidents, it is worth doing.
The Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms.
Many will consider this heresy, but I don’t really give a shit about the constitution. It doesn’t make any sense to base our current decisions on the antiquated views of previous leaders. The founding fathers may have believed in the virtues of gun ownership but they also believed slavery was perfectly fine, women were inherently inferior to men and that powdered wigs were a good look.
Furthermore, at the time of the Second Amendment’s creation, the definition of “arms” was vastly different from what it is today. According to the Washington Post, the typical revolutionary-era musket had a magazine capacity of one round, a firing rate of three rounds per minute and could be shot accurately from a maximum range of 50 meters.
Contrastingly, modern gun technology has evolved to create sophisticated assault rifles with the capability of holding 30 rounds, firing 45 rounds per minute and having a maximum accurate range of 550 meters. This was not the intention of the framers of the Constitution when they promoted the right to bear arms and there is no justifiable reason for average citizens to own these weapons.
Our present-day political decisions should reflect our growth as a civilization and the world we live in today. They should not be dependent on outdated policies that don’t suit our current society.
Mass shootings are not isolated incidents. They will continue to occur in high frequencies if action isn’t taken. It’s time the people of the United States set aside their allegiance to guns and begin to advocate for victims of gun violence.