Let’s Talk About Gun Control

Gun+violence+affects+communities+across+America+daily%2C+so+why+are+policymakers+so+slow+to+affect+change%3F+

Ryan via Unsplash

Gun violence affects communities across America daily, so why are policymakers so slow to affect change?

Alexa Dembo, Staff Writer

This past year had a melancholy beginning when a school shooting occurred only seven days into the new year. On January 7th, a 17-year-old student was killed outside their high school in Belmont, California. Since then, more than 44 other shootings have also taken place, and this is only counting those that have involved schools. Despite the ever-increasing amount of gun-related violence in America, our president still refuses to take action. Praying for the kids that have been lost or injured is just putting a bandaid on a wound needing stitches.

Many Americans believe that they have a constitutional right to bear arms due to the Second Amendment. Others believe that this amendment is outdated, as in 1791 machine guns and AK-47s had yet to exist. In 1791, America was still undergoing internal conflicts and building the Bill of Rights. At the time, they believed that the right to bear arms was extremely necessary, one as necessary as free speech and the protection of the rights to life, liberty, and property. This was about 228 years ago though, and it can be expected that when times change, laws must change with them. Despite the obvious issue with the freedom for firearms that this amendment allows, the U.S government has yet to step up and truly fix the problem. One thing is for certain: gun control litigation must be constructed in order to prevent more school and public shootings. 

The National Rifle Association is the largest proponent of gun rights in the US. Each year, they donate enormous sums of money to Republican candidates and to campaigns against these candidates’ democratic competition. In 2016, the NRA donated a total of $11.4 million to Donald Trump’s election campaign and around $20 million to groups that opposed Hillary Clinton. They remain extremely influential in the political world and are one of the main reasons gun usage remains unregulated even after the immense amount of shootings that have occurred this year. 

The United States at one point did actually make an effort to increase gun control. The Gun Control Act of 1968 introduced bans on interstate shipments of firearms and ammunition and the sale of guns to drug addicts, minors, and mental incompetents, and strengthened the record-keeping and licensing requirements for gun dealers. It is clear, though, at this point in time, after so many teens have been able to get ahold of firearms, that these limits are not very effective. With the development of technology, there are more and more ways to get around these limits. Though these demands were added, it seems that not all dealers are adhering to them. 

It is obvious that changes must be made in order to prevent future deaths. The question is, though, how much are Americans willing to give up their guns? One of the biggest points used in the argument against increased gun control is that people kill people, not guns. They believe that it is only the person that is the issue. When considering this point, one can look to the NFA that Australia’s government implemented into their country. The NFA stands for the National Firearms Agreement, and it banned rapid-fire guns from civilian ownership omitting those with certain, restricted licenses. Another part of the agreement is that all guns must be individually registered, with all firearm sales tracked to record alterations or changes in ownership. A government buyback of semiautomatic and pump-action and shotguns was established as well, reducing the guns in the country by about twenty percent. More than 700,000 guns were removed. In the 18 years previous to the law changes, there had been thirteen mass shootings when using the definition of at least five casualties. In the 22 years that followed the agreement, there was only one. In addition, the number of suicides also dropped. This goes to show that gun control has immense potential to be successful if implemented in America.

It must be noted that the United States remains the country with the largest amount of school shootings since 2009. Our country comes in at 288 school shootings, a number that one would think would produce more gun control litigation within the federal government. Since 2009, Canada and France have had two each, and Germany has had just one. 

Both Canada and France have strict gun regulations, both revolving around different requirements and authorization for differing categories of firearms and ammunition. Having these precautions in place has definitely benefited the countries. In France, in order to possess a category B firearm, which includes handguns with a capacity of 20 rounds, one must be older than 18 years old, be affiliated with a shooting range, have taken part in at least three shooting sessions with an instructor, and have a medical certificate. After completing these requirements, the person then receives a 5-year authorization that allows them to purchase and own a category B firearm. This process ensures that those carrying firearms are educated in how to use them as well as mentally sound. In Canada, there are also certain requirements for different categories of firearms, as well as firearms that are prohibited. Having these strict and detailed precautions laid out for their nation ensures that firearms and their usage remain under control.

The amount of gun-related violence that occurred this past year was massive. With over 45 school shootings taking place and more than this outside of schools, this year has been one filled with grief and frustration. The death count continues to grow because actions have not been taken. With the upcoming election, though, it is possible that Americans could be observing new gun control legislation in the future.