Opinion

Published on October 20th, 2017 | by Tessa Jackson

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States united in a need for better gun control

Gun violence has long been an issue in the United States. According to the Gun Violence Archive we have the highest rate of firearm-related homicides among developed nations, and have had 289 mass shootings (incidents involving more than four victims) in the first ten months of this year alone. Gun culture is so ingrained in America that the slightest mention of increased gun control provokes cries from Conservatives that Liberal politicians are trying to rip away their Constitutional rights. We seem to forget that a lot has changed since the Constitution was written. Back then, rivals could shoot and kill each other in a duel over a minor disagreement and face no legal repercussions. The difference is their deadliest weapons were muskets and bayonets. Today, an AR-15 can fire 90-120 rounds per minute. We are not in the 18th century anymore.

The second amendment states: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Note, it reads “being necessary to the security of a free state”  Again, we are not in a revolution anymore. Not only do we have a standing army, we have the most powerful military in the world. We don’t have to rely on everyday citizens to protect the country from invading forces, and there is no major threat of a coup anytime soon. Yet we still allow for the unregulated stockpiling of dangerous weapons.

If there was a clear-cut solution to gun violence in America, it would’ve been implemented by now. Between the aforementioned existing gun culture and the many types of gun violence, it’s next to impossible to find an agreeable plan that would weed out the problem completely.  Mass shootings like the one in Las Vegas are just one of the many forms of gun violence.  We have seen this debate sparked by school shootings, domestic terrorism and even accidental shootings by children. Whatever the tragedy, the response usually follows the same pattern: the initial outrage builds an outcry, Congress offers their “thoughts and prayers” and in the end nothing is accomplished on a national level. If there’s any doubt as to whether this pitiful attempt at appeasement has worked or not, that glimmer of hope that something has changed is shattered with the next newscast.

What can be done about this problem? For one, a national gun registration. The Gun Control Act of 1968 gave the Bureau of Tobacco, Alcohol and Firearms (ATF) somewhat free range to regulate Federal Firearm License holders. This act was all but stripped away when the NRA pressured Congress to pass the Firearm Owner’s Protection Act of 1986 (FOPA). Under FOPA, it became illegal to form a national registry tying guns directly to their owners, or to create a computer database tracking any purchases or ownership. Not only does this allow for the stockpiling of weapons, it conveys the message that those who own guns are above the law. By creating a national gun registry, police would be able to put a cap on the legal amount of guns, or at least be aware of those with high stockpiles.

Another big problem is the unregulated trade of guns. Gun shows and similar events allow for the selling of guns like common groceries, without background checks, waiting periods or licensing tests. Gun ownership in the U.S. often disregards age as well. In 30 states, including California, a child can legally own a gun before they can legally drive. Even target practice with automatic weapons is not always age restricted. This led to the death of a gun instructor in Arizona by a nine year old girl. Regulating the legal selling of guns and making sure all owners meet a universal set of requirements would help control such incidents of preventable gun violence.

Sadly, all gun deaths cannot be avoided. There will always be the illegal trade of guns by criminals intent on hurting as many people as possible. Legislation can’t prevent every tragedy. However, this doesn’t mean we should make it easy for criminals to get access to these dangerous weapons.

All this being said, Congress is making some progress in the fight for gun control. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s bill banning bump stocks (an attachment to a semi-automatic rifle that allows it to fire at machine-gun rates), originally proposed in 2013, has now received some bipartisan support in Congress. But this is nowhere close to enough. Both Democrats and Republicans have to make an effort to impose gun control laws if they are ever going to work. That means thinking outside the hive mind of a political party.

This is a message you have heard before. This message needs to be repeated until more people start listening. Clinging to the Second Amendment while innocent people are killed isn’t helping anyone. I know people want guns to feel safer. If safety is your only concern, why stand against laws meant to protect Americans from gun violence?


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