By Anna Adamyk Sterling, KS — March 7, 2018, 7:13 P.M.
In light of recent events, gun control is a huge topic in politics and media. We’re bombarded with opinions from both sides. One side claims more gun restrictions will prevent mass shootings and the other side claims that people need more guns to use as defense against shooters.
We’re all familiar with popular sayings that surface when gun control is being debated. Two popular ones are “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” and “Once guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”
The National Rifle Association’s (NRA) Executive Vice President, Wayne Lapierre, spoke in an interview after the Sandy Hook shooting saying “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” which is another slogan adopted by gun rights activists.
Now, after the recent Florida school shooting, those quotes are being thrown around once again along with blaming the nation’s poor mental health system. President Trump commented on the teenage boy’s mental health saying that, “[there are] so many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed.” NRA’s Dana Loesch commented “This individual was nuts… none of us support people who are crazy, who are a danger to themselves, who are a danger to others, getting their hands on a firearm.”
Government regulating guns is scary. It gives the government more power. It makes us feel incapable of protecting ourselves. It violates our Second Amendment rights. It takes away a hobby from thousands of people.
But mass shootings continue to shock the nation. And we just “send our prayers and thoughts” to those whose lives are shaken.
Let’s look at our past.
On Dec. 14, 2012, 20 children (between the ages of 6 and 7) and 6 adults were killed in the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut.
On July 20, 2012, 12 were killed and 58 were injured in the shooting at Aurora, Colorado, in a movie theater.
On June 12, 2016, 49 people were killed (more than 50 injured) in a mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando.
On Oct. 1, 2017, 58 people were killed (nearly 500 injured) when a shooter targeted concert attendees in Las Vegas.
On Nov. 5, 2017, 25 were killed (around 20 injured) during a mass shooting in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
On Feb. 14, 2018, 17 people were killed during school in Parkland, Florida.
These are just the most well-known mass shootings. Many more occurred between each of these.
Now, let’s look at other how other countries have dealt with similar situations.
A mass shooting in 1989 at a Montreal engineering school killed 14 students. Canadian officials wrote laws that require a 28-day waiting period for a gun, mandatory safety training classes, and bans on military style guns and ammunition as well as high-capacity magazines.
A mass shooting in Australia killed 35 people in 1996. The conservative Australian government established laws that restricted automatic and semi-automatic assault rifles and created a temporary gun buyback program that brought in 650,000 assault rifles.
Other countries like Japan, Norway, Israel and the United Kingdom tightened their gun laws after major shootings in the 1990s and early 2000s. Each of the previously mentioned countries has seen positive results since their gun laws were passed. Each country has a gun homicide rate of less than 0.5 per 100,000 people in contrast to America’s 2.9 per 100,000 people.
So what’s keeping America from regulating guns?
One reason could be the NRA.
They have endorsed catchy slogans that support guns. They gave thousands of dollars to 14 specific Florida Politicians and spent $54 million during the 2016 presidential election ($20 million was used fighting against Hillary Clinton and $11 million was used supporting Donald Trump). They suggested arming teachers. They remind people of the Second Amendment rights, which was written before assault style rifles were even available to the public. All of these things sound like the NRA is looking out for America’s well-being but in reality, it’s an amazing marketing strategy. If guns are legal, the NRA makes money. And the more the NRA convinces people we need guns, the more money they make. It’s not about protection, it’s about money.
The United States currently has regulations that prevent gun sales to individuals who are under the age of 18 (or 21 if you want a handgun), mentally disabled, a convicted criminal or were dishonorably discharged from the military. Purchasers have to supply identification and usually get a background check, but some private dealers are not required to conduct background checks. There is no way to check if the person has a mental illness and there are no safety instruction classes required.
Common-sense gun laws tease conservative views on guns but the past proves they make a difference.
Why does this matter to a college student?
We’re becoming part of a society that isn’t shocked by gun homicides or school shootings. We’re used to headlines reading about the shooting downtown that killed two people or a school shooter that murdered 15 children. We’re buying into messages about gun rights and gun advocacy because it’s what our parents think.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You have the ability to learn from the past and you have the power to determine the future. Simple regulations can go a long way. Gun control really isn’t scary.
“U.S. Gun Policy: Global Comparisons” by Jonathan Masters from Council on Foreign Relations
“How Australia And Other Developed Nations Have Put A Stop To Gun Violence” by Walter Hickey from Business Insider
“U.S. mass shootings in 2012” by The Washington Post
“Deadliest Mass Shootings in Modern US History Fast Facts” by CNN News