11 November 2013
Gun Control is Taking Over
For: The Rolling Stone
On December 14, 2012, the lives of Newtown, Connecticut were forever changed when a community member, Adam Lanza, fatally took the lives of twenty six people from Sandy Hook Elementary. This shooting became known as the second deadliest shooting by a single person in American history. On September 16, 2013, Aaron Alexis shot and killed twelve people and injured three others in a mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. It was the second deadliest mass murder on a U.S. military base. In the past sixteen months, there have been a number of other mass shootings - in a movie theater in Colorado, at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and at a manufacturing plant in Minnesota. We have also recently seen an increase in gun violence in the Five Points area of Columbia, South Carolina.
In January 2013, the Associated Press found that 58 percent of Americans wanted stricter gun control laws, and 55 percent wanted a ban on rapid-fire, semi-automatic rifles. During that same month, thousands of demonstrators marched in Washington, D.C. demanding gun control. However, the National Rifle Association (NRA) claimed that such bans would violate Americans' constitutional right to bear arms. It argued that citizens need these types of guns to defend themselves against criminals, and more guns are needed, not less. The NRA also argues that teachers should be allowed to carry guns and should be trained to use them (Gorman- Smith). Others have argued that gun violence is a mental health issue and that gun control will not prevent mass shootings. In September 2013, the citizens of Colorado recalled two state senators that supported stricter gun laws and are now organizing to repeal these laws.
Clearly, Americans are divided over gun control and the most effective ways to prevent gun violence. While this debate continues, innocent children, teachers, workers and bystanders are being killing and injured on a daily basis. Americans who support gun control must take a stand. They must affiliate themselves with organizations that are proposing reasonable measures – such as stricter background checks and limits on the size of ammunition magazines – and they must let their representatives know that reducing gun violence is a top priority for their state and the nation. Unless they are willing to take a stand, they should be prepared to hear and see an increase in gun violence where they work, live and raise their children and grandchildren.
The mass shooting that have been recently occurring in the United States are becoming part of a long-term trend of gun violence that have been progressing in our country. One of the biggest tragedies is the shooting of Sandy Hook—it caused the death of 20 children—but it is only the beginning of this country’s gun issues. According to FBI statistics, “46,313 Americans were murdered with firearms during the time period of 2007 to 2011” (Freeman). To put this into perspective, “this translates to an average of 9,263 murders per year, or 25 murders per day. When we look at this average death toll in relation to the Sandy Hook Shooting—a nationally shocking tragedy—we see that a Sandy Hook sized tragedy happens every day” (Sager).
The United States has more weapons and the most relaxed gun laws than any developed country, which is not a good thing. There is easy access to weapons and the methods for tracking weapons is ineffective. As a result, guns can fall into the wrong hands. This facilitates violence and it allows unstable people, members of gang and those with mental issues to use weapons to kill other people. According to Sager, “currently, it is estimated that there are 88 guns for every 100 people living in the United States with no realistic way to keep these guns from falling into the hands of violent criminals and disturbed people.”