Reopening the conversation of gun control

We can’t afford to just move on.

Riley Potter, Staff Writer

Gun control has long been a touchy topic in the United States. While many might want the U.S. to ban all guns, that simply is not realistic.

Unfortunately, gun violence is a real problem in our country, as Americans kill each other with guns at 25 times the rate of people in other high-income countries. The statistics are haunting and concerning. In 2021 alone, we have had over 12,000 deaths from gun violence. Roughly 300 people are shot every day. Every 16 hours, a woman is shot and killed by a current or former partner, and access to a gun in the home increases the likelihood of suicide by 300%. Guns in homes are especially dangerous for kids. Roughly 8,000 kids die per year from gun violence, and firearm-related injury is the second most common cause of death for children.

Let’s end this vicious cycle. (Selah Tennberg)

Mass shootings are now common occurrences and people are no longer safe in grocery stores or schools. As there seems to be almost-constant coverage of shootings in the media–take the recent shooting in Indianapolis–our emotional investment in these crises decreases. We are becoming desensitized to gun violence. Something has to change. 

Across the political spectrum, common ground can be found on gun control reforms, and politicians should capitalize on these points in the attempt to preserve human life. The vast majority of Americans on both sides of the debate support laws that protect children from accessing deadly weapons. A Washington Post story recently highlighted the tragedy of a young boy who obtained his father’s preloaded revolver and shot himself. A poll showed that eight out of 10 Americans — including seven out of 10 Republicans — supported legislation enforcing that guns be locked up when they are not in use. Even a simple measure surrounding gun storage would drastically reduce child casualties while making homes safer and guns much less accessible. 

Another step could be the implementation of nationwide gun licensing programs. This is a step beyond universal background checks, which often are not as comprehensive as they should be, and would ensure that those who have a history of mental health issues or a criminal record cannot legally purchase guns. This process would include a gun safety class, various referrals, and a background check through the local police department. A positive example of the use of gun licensing occurs in Connecticut, where applications take roughly three weeks to be approved–in contrast to most universal background checks which take only minutes. This stretch of time can deter impulsive gun buyers who want to acquire a weapon quickly to rashly commit either a mass shooting or self-harm.

While the right to bear arms is protected in the U.S. Constitution, it’s important to think critically about this point. Our Founding Fathers lived in a different time and context and couldn’t possibly imagine the capacity of firearms in the days to come. They wanted to ensure that Americans could protect themselves from a tyrannical government, but they most likely didn’t envision this protection to entail military-grade semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines. These are not meant to be in the homes of the everyday American citizen and they only result in more death and destruction. They do not fulfill the ideals of protection and safety envisioned in the Second Amendment. These weapons pose more harm than good and should be banned, or very tightly regulated, for the common protection of the American people.

Ultimately, how we handle guns and gun control must change if we truly want to protect the people of this country. We are currently stuck in a cycle in which mass gun violence is a haunting reality. Every once in a while, something especially dire happens, such as the mass shootings of Boulder, CO, and Atlanta, GA. The media covers it, and we are all in shock. We send our thoughts and prayers and have furious debates over social media about our rights, but then we forget. Those directly impacted by gun violence mourn and grieve and demand justice but, for the rest of us, our lives go on and Congress does nothing to address the situation. 

People are dying and it seems as if we are doing nothing to remedy the violence. There are so many regulations for nearly every other part of life: lead is no longer allowed in paint, you need a driver’s license in order to drive, you have to wear seatbelts, you have to be at least 21 in order to legally consume alcohol. In so many other realms of existence, we are trying to make dangerous activities safer, but with gun control, there is so little work being done to protect people. 

The Second Amendment was meant to protect lives, not to threaten them. We have waited too long and we shouldn’t sit with our hands tied for yet another mass tragedy to strike in order to address the gun violence that plagues our nation.

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Opinions expressed in letters and other editorials, unless otherwise stated, are those of the writers and not of The Horizon staff or the college collectively.

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