I turn on the TV and hear the not-so-shocking news that another shooting has occurred in a school, at a concert, etc. Yes, I’m devastated whenever there is news of a shooting, but what is sad is that I’m not surprised anymore. In today’s world, the reality I have come to realize is that I could go to the mall, a restaurant, or even school, and there’s a possibility that I could become a victim of a mass shooting.
We hear about mass shootings in America all the time, but why is there barely any news of other countries being affected by one? It is possible that the American laws regarding gun ownership contribute to the number of shootings that occur. According to a survey by Vox, “America has 4.4 percent of the world’s population, but almost half of the civilian-owned guns in the world.” There is no way the U.S. would suffer more severely from gun violence if we allowed fewer civilians to own firearms. With better gun control, tragedies like the Las Vegas Shooting on Oct. 1 may not have happened in the first place.
Most of the shooters causing these mass shootings use assault rifles, but this is not the case in which these lethal weapons cause harm. According to a study published by George Mason University, automatic weapons are also used alarmingly often in “ordinary crimes of violence and attacks on police officers.” Between 1994 and 2004, “the federal government banned military-style semiautomatic assault weapons for ten years, and deaths from mass shootings fell,” according to CNN. If the U.S. banned these weapons again, it is more than likely that the amount of mass shootings would drop once again.
Many conservatives argue that Americans are allowed to have guns because of the Second Amendment of the Constitution. This amendment states, “a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” This amendment does not translate to modern day Americans. It was ratified in 1791, when the “arms” being referred to were muskets, and people needed guns to hunt and protect themselves from the wilderness.
However, we now live in a much different time. A time in which parents have to worry about sending their child to school because school shootings are so common.
It is vital that gun laws have stricter requirements for owning a weapon. Politifact.com notes that “federally licensed gun sellers are required to run background checks, but not all sellers are required to be licensed, and some of those unlicensed sellers sell at gun shows.” This is incredibly dangerous. As long as you are buying from an unlicensed seller, you can buy any gun you want with no background check. This enables dangerous people to buy guns and get away with it, allowing them to kill innocent people.
Background checks should be required for any person to buy a gun. Assault weapons should also be banned altogether. While this will not completely stop mass shootings from happening, the number of innocent victims that would be killed would be less because the shooters would have to rely on weapons with a slower rate of fire, namely bolt-action rifles and handguns. Those weapons also carry less bullets in their magazines, reducing the number of victims.
In Canada, prospective gun purchasers must participate in a background check and take a public safety course. Implementing a federal law like this would be beneficial to the American people. People with a history of violence would be stopped from purchasing a gun by the background check, and all purchasers would be educated with the safety class. We need to be proactive in making gun laws and stop waiting for the next tragedy to erupt and cause us to ask ourselves, “What could we have done to prevent this?”
Caitlin Kennedy is an Entertainment Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.org.