by Hadley Noble on Friday, October 16th, 2015
The longest we have gone in the last year without a shooting incident of some kind is eight days. Eight days between horrific tragedies. I remember my freshman year when I received the first of many CNN notifications on the Sandy Hook shooting. It was the first major shooting that I remember, the first one that left an indelible mark on my understanding of violence. I thought of those children, all the same age as my brother and sister, in their last moments, and I felt sick to my stomach. I thought for sure that after that, gun laws would change. Instead, I have become increasingly used to those sickening CNN updates. Yet, even with these horrific instances of violence that have become so commonplace, our country is resistant to any kind of gun control reform. The most recent of those updates was the Umpqua Community College shooting of two weeks ago; a man walked into the school and killed nine people in his writing class, along with wounding nine others. He shot a woman in a wheelchair with a service dog…just because he could.
In Obama’s speech given in Oregon, following the shooting, he called upon our country to fix the gun violence that plagues our nation. Yet, even in the face of this hometown tragedy, people present were angered that Obama was there to “steal their guns.” It is unconscionable for us as a country to continue to ignore the problem we have with gun violence.
From 2004 to 2013, there have been approximately 1000% more American deaths from gun violence than from terrorism, yet we dedicate millions of our already overstretched budget on combatting terrorism in America and abroad. According to a New York Times article, as of 2013 more preschoolers are killed each year by guns than police officers in the line of duty. In that same article, it was stated that more Americans have been killed by guns since 1970 than had died in all U.S. wars since the American Revolution. We need look no further for support to this statement than the October 7th incident where an 11 year old boy shot and killed his eight year old neighbor for not letting him play with her puppy. He was able to take a gun from an unlocked closet and end the life of a second grader. At the same time, we have not changed the way we sell guns in this country.
Candidates for the upcoming 2016 election when speaking on gun control advocate for stricter licensing laws and restrictions on purchasing. These I wholly support. It should be as difficult, if not more so, to obtain a gun license as it is to obtain a driver’s license. All prospective gun owners should take a thirty hour class on operating a gun and the consequences of operating a gun irresponsibly. Assault weapons should be made illegal as there is no reason anyone should be able to purchase a gun designed to lay waste to an entire crowd in seconds. There should be full background checks on anyone wishing to purchase a gun. Anyone with a history of domestic abuse or violence should be unable to purchase a gun. We should research ways to make guns safer.
However, if all of these measures were enacted, which is highly unlikely due to the gun lobby, there are still more than enough guns in circulation to arm every man, woman, and child in the United States. Australia, after facing a gun violence problem of a much smaller scale, instituted a successful buy-back program in 1997. Before the program, the percent of homicides involving firearms was 24%. In 2007, the percentage was 11%. I would suggest a similar buyback program in America to decrease the number of guns on our streets.
Ultimately, the problem with gun violence in our country will not be fixed until there is more popular support for increased gun control. It saddens me to think that even after all of the horrific incidents in the last year alone concerning mass murders facilitated by firearms, what worries people most is that Obama might try to take away our guns. At this rate, I cannot imagine what what magnitude an incident would have to occur in order to change our country’s mind about guns. The Second Amendment does not even necessarily mean that we should be allowed to arm ourselves as individuals. So my question to you is this: why do we as a country continue to sacrifice our safety and the safety of our children for the right to bare arms?
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