by Lia Salem
April 20, 1999, the Columbine High School massacre. 13 people dead.
April 16, 2007, the Virginia Tech massacre. 32 people dead.
July 20, 2012, The Aurora Movie Theatre massacre. 12 people dead.
December 14, 2012, Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. 27 dead.
These events are just a small handful of gun-related deaths in the United States of America. And, such violence doesn’t stop with just schools. In February of 2015, a three-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed himself, due to the gun being easily accessible to children. According to investigators, the boy discovered the gun in a purse. In March of the same year, a five-year-old accidentally shot his six-year-old brother in the head. And, in January of 2015, a five-year-old accidentally shot his baby brother, killing the infant. Once again, those events are just a small handful of all gun related deaths in the United States
Let’s stop and look at statistics for a moment. According to the Brady Campaign (an organization that promotes gun safety), over 108,000 people die from gun-related deaths each year. Over 32,000 people die due to gun violence, and over 75,000 people have survived a gun-related injury.
It really does lead one to ask the question: just when will all this needless insanity stop?
The fact of the matter is, gun related deaths won’t stop until we do something about it, and so far, there has been much talk, and little action.
It just seems like whenever a mass shooting occurs, people do get enraged by it. The debate for gun control rises up again. And then, after a few months, maybe a year has passed, the talking and debating dies down, and we all go about our daily lives.
Until another needless mass shooting occurs.
I believed that the shooting at Sandy Hook was enough to get Americans to stand up and say that enough was enough, that we didn’t want to see anymore innocent people getting killed due to gun violence. I thought those news reports with children accidentally shooting and killing themselves, a family member or a friend, due to irresponsible actions taken by gun owners, would have been enough for the American citizens to wake up.
This is where I come in and say that guns and children are a very lethal combination. Furthermore, it makes my very blood boil when I hear of stories like this. Stories about the needless death of a child, a death that could have been prevented, if gun owners with children would even bother to take the necessary precautions. That is not to say that all gun owners are irresponsible, but with so many stories of these preventable accidents, isn’t it time to do something?
The fact of the matter is this: if you are a parent, or you regularly have small children visiting you (you’re a babysitter, you run a day care service, etc.), and you own a gun, then it is your responsibility to keep that gun locked up, and hidden away, in a place where only you know the location, and where a child has no chance of finding it.
It is for these reasons, as well as for all the other needless deaths caused by gun violence, that the United States of America, needs stricter gun control laws.
Before I get into why, let me first start out by clearing up few things. Number one: gun control laws aren’t looking to take away your right to own a firearm. Gun control laws merely want to put stricter measures in place, so that tragedies due to gun violence can be greatly reduced. Number two: I do not believe that banning guns altogether will fix the situation. Let’s pretend for a moment that a law was passed, and that law made it illegal for civilians to own any type of gun. This would not work, and do you want to know why? Simple, because just like with illegal drugs, if guns are made illegal, people will still find ways to get their hands on them. And finally, number three: I do understand and respect that people believe they have the right to protect their families.
Now that that’s out of the way, I’d like to get into why we need more gun control.
One of the arguments presented by those against stricter gun control laws is that in order to reduce mass killings due to gun violence, more people should own and carry guns.
That, to me, doesn’t make sense. You reduce the number of gun-related deaths by bringing in more guns? That’s about as logical as someone coming forward and saying that in order to prevent car accidents, we need to heighten the speed limit.
Folks, more guns will not reduce the number of gun-related deaths. If anything, it would just make it worse. According to mic.com, a good number of the most lethal mass shootings have occurred since 2007. These mass shootings include the shooting at Virginia Tech, the Aurora shooting and Sandy Hook Elementary.
As I said before, banning guns completely will not solve the problem. However, I believe that there are certain measures that do need to be taken into consideration.
First, I believe that if you have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness (Adam Lanza, the man who was responsible for the deaths at Sandy Hook, was said to have been diagnosed with the following illnesses; Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, according to CBS News.), than you should not be allowed to own a gun. It has also been reported that Lanza’s conditions were left untreated. If that’s true, then perhaps Sandy Hook would have never happened
Second, there should always be background checks done on anybody who wishes to own a gun. According to Politifact, about 40% of all gun purchases have been done with no background checks. However, it should also be noted that 60% of guns purchased from federally licensed sellers were done with background checks. This is because federally licensed dealers are required to conduct those background checks, while this requirement does not extend to private owners and sellers. Let me put it to you this way: if I was a private seller, I could sell a gun to a complete stranger, and have no idea if their intentions for buying the gun are malicious, or not.
Gun control opponents frequently argue that these efforts would infringe on their Second Amendment rights.
The Second Amendment states that, “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." Key words there people: well-regulated militia. When the Second Amendment was created, it referred to a highly trained “militia” that could defend their country, its citizens, and the rights of those citizens.
When the Second Amendment was created, it did not mean that just anybody should be allowed to go out and buy a gun. And I, for one, believe that if our founding fathers could see just how much this amendment as been misrepresented, and just how much the right to own a gun has been abused, we would all get the slap of the century.
Even though I believe that taking certain actions in favor of stricter gun control laws will greatly reduce the number of gun related deaths, those actions will not happen unless people make them happen. In order for gun-related deaths and crimes to go down, we all need to make an effort. We must make an effort, a harder and more emphatic effort, to do whatever we can, to put stricter gun control laws in place.
I sure as hell do not want to hear of another needless mass shooting.