Getting Things Under Control: Mass shooting in America need to stop

Girls+protest+against+gun+rights.+After+a+year+full+of+mass+shootings%2C+its+time+for+a+change.

Girls protest against gun rights. After a year full of mass shootings, it’s time for a change.

Treyce Warner, Opinion Writer

Every week for the past seven weeks, there has been at least one mass shooting in America. The amount of lives lost to preventable gun violence increases every day and is rapidly climbing the list of most common causes of death in the United States. While guns are too ingrained in American culture to plausibly ban weapons throughout the country, steps should be taken to prevent those who will misuse firearms from obtaining those weapons and attachments that will enable them to slaughter more effectively.

Gun shows, like the one held two weeks ago in Winston-Salem, are an easy and morally questionable way to purchase a firearm with minimal to no restrictions or questions asked. Of the roughly 72 million gun owners in America, nearly 16 million have purchased firearms without a background check. That is 22% of gun owners in the country, as shown in a 2017 study by Northeastern University researcher Matthew Miller. At gun shows, people who are not licensed firearms dealers are allowed to sell weapons at gun shows, and many of their recipients are not licensed to carry firearms. This gaping legal loophole (along with blatant illegal activity) allows dozens of mass shootings, from schools and stores to streets and neighborhoods, to occur on a near-weekly basis. Gun shows need to become heavily regulated, closed activities requiring background checks and licenses on both ends of the firearm trade instead of the lackadaisical approach we have now.

While we all know about the horrific events guns have caused in public, open areas, guns in the home are a more silent killer. A New England Journal of Medicine study found that firearms are one of the leading causes of violent death in children, with 15% of non-disease related deaths involving a gun. If a parent is unwilling or unable to safely secure the weapon from the child, whether it be hiding it from a 6 year old or explaining gun safety to a 13 year old, they should not be purchasing a firearm. Suicide rates are also closely linked with gun ownership because of their frequency of use in suicides; 51.8% of suicides are committed with a firearm, according to the CDC. Universal federal background checks for firearms and ammunition purchases and gun licensing laws could decrease these deaths up to a staggering 80.7%, as shown by a Lancet study in 2016. During 2020, of which no one needs to be reminded was a year limited in contact, 19,380 people were killed by firearms. Implementing those aforementioned laws could have saved up to 15,640 lives. That’s over five 9/11 death tolls saved for a single year.

I’ve spent the majority of this article condemning guns and the violence that comes with them, but it would be disingenuous to not cite opposing arguments. While the gun control laws I have mentioned would likely reduce gun deaths by a massive margin, gun control laws in the past have been largely ineffective at stopping crime and usually repealed within a few years. Gun ownership also correlates with deterring crime: in states with increasing gun ownership, the murder and injury rate from shootings tends to go down. However, this is involving registered firearms. Gun ownership of unregistered firearms directly correlates with a large increase of gun-related deaths from both homicide and suicide, further cementing the point of registration, training, and licensing all being incredibly important. Finally, the second amendment protects gun owners’ rights and ensures private gun ownership in America in case of a tyrannical government. I am no expert on militia uprisings, but even I would put my college savings on the $733 billion dollar U.S. military budget against a band of hillbillies with rifles. The founding fathers planned for muskets and cannons versus slightly newer muskets and cannons, not small arms versus an F-15. The second amendment argument is not grounded in reality. Universal background checks and registration would only make it take longer to get a weapon legally. Getting a weapon illegally or without proper licensing at gun shows would be much more difficult, as it should be and should have been decades ago.

I should not have to wake up as a teenager in America and wonder if I’m going to be able to make it home from the store after hearing a news report on the tenth mass shooting this month. Gun control legislation needs to be put in place immediately to try to put a stop to the senseless violence that has been pervading America for generations.