Give Stricter Gun Control a Shot

nbbbWhat do Charleston, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Sandy Hook, and, most recently, San Bernardino have in common? At one point, these cities and schools all existed in relative obscurity, unrelated by any means, familiar mainly to those who lived or attended there. Now, each place has risen to infamy, its name forever stained with the blood of innocent Americans and its legacy forever shadowed by a mass shooting that took place on its grounds. Today, each place stands as a flagrant testament to why America needs more gun control.

Despite these publicized massacres and the other 30,000+ annual deaths caused by gun violence that go largely unnoticed, a CNN poll found that over half of all Americans continue to oppose stricter gun control laws. Pro-gun pundits defend their stance with safety concerns, arguing that “the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” as Wayne LaPierre, vice president of the National Rifle Association, stated mere days after the Sandy Hook shooting.

This oft-invoked narrative essentially equates the problem to the solution, claiming that the only thing that protects against guns is more guns. If an armed civilian population truly protects citizens from gun violence, then America’s status as the most armed nation on earth (88.8 guns for every 100 people) should secure its spot as the safest. In reality, America’s gun homicide rates remain the highest among all developed countries—by far. A research team at Stanford University probed deeper into LaPierre’s claim only to find that the 33 states with right-to-carry laws observed increases in violent crimes ranging from 4-19%. Other studies conducted on smaller scales found that living with firearms also means living with a significantly increased risk of dying by homicide or committing suicide.

Current gun control laws are flimsy and riddled with loopholes, most notably the gaping window in federal law that allows private dealers to sell guns without performing background checks. The NRA, one of the most formidable and extensive lobbying forces in the United States, continually obstructs any steps towards substantial policy changes, placing their allegiance to a misconstrued version of the second amendment over innocent human lives.

In America, civilians can legally obtain guns engineered for war, powerful enough to pierce through armored vehicles and shoot down helicopters, yet less regulated than handguns (see: 50-caliber sniper rifle). There is nothing normal about the fact that mass shootings occur here at a near weekly rate while countries like Australia haven’t witnessed a one in nineteen years, nothing normal about the fact that I could publish this story during any time of the year and it would remain timely and relevant. Lawmakers and everyday Americans should push for stricter gun control laws rather than wait for the next batch of innocent lives to be taken in a shooting that America’s political gridlock made possible. Until stricter gun laws are enacted, no one is free from blame.