Gun Violence in America

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Elizabeth Liatsos, Staff Writer

Gun violence in America has been a huge issue for a long time. It seems that every day there is news of another mass shooting. It has become almost numbing to hear about.

On Saturday, May 14, 2022, ten African Americans were killed in a supermarket in Buffalo during a mass shooting. Ten days later, in Uvalde Texas, there was another one. An 18-year-old shot and killed 19 elementary school students and 2 adults. He wounded 17 other people at the school. 

This shooting was the breaking point. It sparked a national outrage. People are pushing for change. There have been protests nationwide calling for action. People have taken to social media to criticize what the government has done, or the lack thereof.

President Joe Biden went to Twitter and Instagram to offer his condolences. He said, “I ask the nation to pray for [the parents] — to give them strength in the darkness.” The comments are full of citizens saying that prayer is not enough, and that action is necessary. People are calling out many members of Congress for offering their thoughts and prayers instead of making a change. 

But gun laws in America simply won’t pass. Although about 90% of the public support some form of background checks for gun ownership, most Republican lawmakers won’t vote on them for one of two reasons.

While some Republicans support background checks, they are wary to vote in favor of them for fear of losing the approval of the public. They’re fearful of losing their own power and ruining their careers.

The other reason Republican lawmakers won’t vote in support of any form of gun reform is that they see gun ownership as a privilege detailed in the Second Amendment of the Constitution.

Unfortunately, a lot of people misinterpret what the Second Amendment means, and why the founding fathers added it to the Constitution. Many founding fathers were wary of the government, seeing as they had just escaped a tyrannical one. They wanted to make sure people had access to weapons on the occasion that the existing government followed that same path. 

The main goal of the Second Amendment was to prevent the country from needing a standing army. By their logic, any country with a standing army couldn’t truly be free. The founding father were not concerned with personal rights to bear arms, but rather the ability to defend the nation. 

The modern idea of owning guns is largely about personal freedoms, though. Most people are not concerned with forming an emergency militia. 

An interview conducted by NPR asked five gun owners what their opinions are after the Uvalde shooting. Three of them said they would be in support of stricter regulations on guns. The other two talked more about making sure teachers were better prepared for school shootings. The three who were in support of strict regulations also talked about their kids, or their hope to someday be a parent. On a whole, most of the people questioned said that shootings were unavoidable.

But studies done by both BBC and the New York Times show that mass shootings are completely avoidable, given the right circumstances. Both studies outlined what other countries have done in regards to gun laws. Every country discussed took measures against gun violence almost immediately after a mass shooting had occurred. Australia, for example, had one mass shooting in 1996 that killed 35 people. The nation passed new restrictions on guns and had a buyback on weapons that people possessed and willingly gave up. Despite the country’s fairly conservative government, and the initial controversy of the new laws, the reforms have been widely accepted. There has only been one mass shooting in the country since 1996, and the rate of gun-related homicides and suicides has halved. 

The same pattern can be found in every country studied. Gun laws were passed, making it a more rigorous process to get a gun, and the rates of violence have decreased. This suggests that mass shootings, especially the abundance of them in America, are entirely avoidable. But the people and politicians of this country need to be willing to give up some of their own power to save innocent lives.

 

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