Gun Control: It Is Time for Reform

How sad that a country that boasts of remarkable achievements, technological advancements, medical breakthroughs, democracy, and history as an influential power, to name a few, has failed to enact meaningful gun policy reforms. It is quite unfortunate that American kids are no longer safe in schools, worshipers can no longer feel secure in their worship place, and citizens can no longer walk in the streets securely or go to the grocery store without being terrified of gun violence. Devastating and shuttering instances of gun violence have been witnessed in the US, taking hundreds of innocent civilians’ lives and breaking the community. It is distressing that the US has reached a place where a gunman invades a school and opens fire. This is a bleeding wound that needs immediate attention; otherwise, it will haunt the US for generations. According to statistics from the Gun Violence Archive, the US has recorded more than 39,000 fatalities each year since 2014, all from gun violence (Gun Violence Archive, 2023). In 2022, 44,310 individuals lost their lives to gun violence, and in 2023, as of October, at least 35,275 similar losses have occurred, making an average of about 118 fatalities daily, inclusive of kids and teens (Gun Violence Archive, 2023). These numbers are shocking, and the US is losing it, considering that 565 mass shooting incidents have already been witnessed in 2023 (Gun Violence Archive, 2023). However, gun control has been extremely politicized in the US, making it a debate that has raged in Congress for decades, habitually reigniting after incidences of mass shootings. However, even after these tragedies continue to unfold, the gun proponent in Congress has made the attempts to approve critical reform futile. Gun violence will continue to take an uptrend projection unless the legislators enact stringent gun laws and continue to reinforce them till change materializes. This is the moment to turn the pain gun violence has inflicted on the US into action.

Restructuring gun policies across the US will be such a big win, not just for preventing mass murder but also for creating a safe society free from rampant daily violence. Logically, tightening gun laws to ensure that getting them is much harder and for those in possession to use them cautiously and safely will reduce the witnessed killings. In May 2022, a young armed man opened fire in a Texas Robb elementary school, killing two teachers and at least 19 kids (Greve, 2022). It was challenging to get the killer immediately because, in Texas, people can easily buy guns and carry them openly in public. After this hurtful incident, the largest after Sandy Hook, legislators, and the president wanted reforms to be done effectively and promptly (Greve, 2022). With such a devasting incident, some legislators who support guns were proposing erecting safer schools and arming the teachers. However, all this can be solved by passing laws that make acquiring guns harder. A white supremacist is responsible for killing 10 individuals in Buffalo while grocery shopping and Uvalde’s killing could not have happened if there were strict laws regulating gun buying, particularly those used by these killers. Even though no gun proponents or owners accept this level of violence or feel that the distress can be tolerated, passionate disagreement remains on what actions or measures should be enacted. Clearly, partisan division ensues in differing gun policy goals and what needs to be prioritized. However, it is abundantly evident that even if all citizens had guns, this would not stop crime, but it would increase mortality rates stemming from gun violence. Today, gun violence claims more teen and children lives in the US than car accidents. In 2017, gun violence surpassed 60 years of auto accidents to become the biggest killer of teens and children (Lee et al., 2022). Legislators need to disregard their differences and pass laws that address this crisis and save the US from being stuck in this danger that continues to claim hundreds of lives each year.

In the US, everybody can own a gun because the constitution supports it in the Second Amendment, and this might explain why the country has the highest homicide rates among the most developed countries. Even if this does not prove a causal relationship, the lack of further restrictions on owning firearms has increased gun deaths (Schaeffer, 2023). Despite Congress’s several reviews on the prevailing gun laws, which are prompted by high-profile shootings like the one that happened in Las Vegas and Parkland, Florida, killing sixty and seventeen people in 2017 and 2018, respectively, the ill-fated appraisals have failed to enact strict measures (Masters, 2022). Still, there are no solid laws that prohibit assault weapons, firearm sales to abusive partners, ex-convicts of hate crimes, or individuals suffering from mental illness. This poses a significant safety risk. Even though some individual states have passed strict laws that require mandatory background checks or an age limit, the federal government still needs to pass laws that strengthen and augment a nationwide restriction because gun violence stands to be a national crisis (Masters, 2022). For sure, laws would reduce mass shootings, and this would be possible by enacting comprehensive gun laws that have fewer loopholes. Research from Harvard School indicated that states with more gun owners experience high homicide rates (Masters, 2022). Pushing strict laws that prohibit gun ownership to those with a crime history, addicts, domestic abusers, and underage would eventually lower gun violence. However, this would demand all legislators to have one voice that guns do not guarantee safety but weapons that perpetuate violence and murder.

Even with repeated attempts in Congress to strengthen gun laws, legislators need to go all out and hard in this to help cut mass shootings. For instance, the bill for mandatory background checks that was pushed in Congress in 2013 after the Sandy Hook shooting was botched since the majority of the Republicans and some Democrats were against the law. But at what expense? If Congress had it together, it would be easy to implement measures that ensure the safety of the community by tackling gun violence once and for all. Background checks could be strengthened and expanded to prohibit ownership to those who have a history of a similar crime, perpetrators of domestic violence, and those struggling mentally (Greve, 2022). The government is spending millions to research more on gun violence deaths and injuries, and these insights need to be leveraged to enact policies and laws that diminish gun violence. Gun control should not be a controversial subject, and passing laws does not mean Americans would not own guns, but this should be perceived simply as a measure to make America safer. For instance, a bill has already been sanctioned by the House of representative that aims to ensure all firearms buyers undergo a thorough background check before the transfer or sale and rectify the “Charleston loophole,” which will see time increased before guns are transferred to unlicensed buyers for adequate background check (Greve, 2022). However, the divided Senate thins the chances that this bill will pass. Nevertheless, the reality remains that gun violence is a menace that is taking the US by storm. What makes it even more puzzling is that the solution is within reach, and just with a few more votes, the narrative can change. Those elected should prioritize the public welfare, and this should ground gun control reforms.

Even with the new funding model to ensure gun violence is well researched, the years of amassed data on gun deaths, injuries, and the recommended measures point that the only way to make America safe is by regulating gun ownership, and even the new evidence will correspond to this. The scars of gun violence will continue to haunt America because even before people are done grieving mass shootings, suicide deaths, and accidental killings, the next cruel, biggest, upsetting mass murder occurs. But all this to secure votes for office. Where will the voters be if gun violence continues to claim hundreds of lives. The fact remains that guns should be used safely, and buying them should not be as easy as going to a grocery store or a market. This is the time to go hard, save coming generations, and label guns as it is “weapons of murder.” Otherwise, the headlines will continue to be another shocking incident that has left many dead. How sad!

References

Greve, J. (2022). Why can’t America do anything to stop mass shootings? The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/may/25/why-cant-america-stop-mass-shootings-gun-control

Gun Violence Archive. (2023). Gun Violence Archive. Gunviolencearchive.org; Gun Violence Archive. https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/

Lee, L. K., Douglas, K., & Hemenway, D. (2022). Crossing lines—a change in the leading cause of death among US children. New England Journal of Medicine386(16), 1485-1487.

Masters, J. (2022). US Gun Policy: Global Comparisons. Council on Foreign Relations. https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/us-gun-policy-global-comparisons

Schaeffer, K. (2023). Key facts about Americans and guns. Pew Research Center; Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2023/09/13/key-facts-about-americans-and-guns/

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