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Two Student Perspectives on Gun Control After Las Vegas

Two Student Perspectives on Gun Control After Las Vegas

Oct 31, 2017

We Must Call for Ceasefire

Aurora, 12 killed; Sandy Hook, 26 killed; Virginia Tech, 32 killed; Orlando, 50 killed.

Las Vegas: 59 killed.
In the years between 2005 and 2015, according to PolitiFact, over 280,000 citizens were killed in gun-related incidents; in 2017 so far, nearly 12,000 have fallen in the face of such dangerous weapons.

This graph indicates the number of incidents due to gun violence in 2017. It is time to face the music, take responsibility, and initiate immediate measures to prevent further disaster.

These statistics are horrifying. While many, including the presidential administration, have focused their energies on preventing terrorism from abroad, homegrown terrorists murder thousands of Americans with a weapon that is tirelessly protected by politicians who claim to want only the best for this country.  It is time to face the music, take responsibility, and initiate immediate measures to prevent further disaster.

How many more children, parents, and lovers must be killed needlessly before the government gets a hint? How many more tears, hearts, and bullet casings will fall before someone calls a ceasefire?

I believe this is a time for mourning, yes, for Las Vegas and for all the horrendous memories the tragedy dug up from the past. I believe it is a time for solidarity. However, this country is rarely united as a team, even in its conception. Therefore, since we cannot as a people seem to manage teamwork, I believe this is a time for fury.

It was wholly pathetic that gun control continued to be debated so hotly after Sandy Hook when twenty children were murdered in cold blood, and it has grown more and more embarrassing, dispiriting, and irresponsible with every death since.  

It is absolutely infuriating that people, especially leaders, are willing to risk the lives of countless citizens for the sake of upholding a single amendment, which was written over two centuries ago in a completely different era.

And it is entirely sobering and terrifying that there is an estimated 270 million guns in the USA (many believe there could be as many as 30 million more than that count). It’s no wonder how Stephen Paddock, the gunman in Las Vegas, got his hands on 33 firearms within a year without anyone blinking an eye.

Indeed, the right to own guns is still a right by the Second Amendment of the Constitution. However, when it comes to gun control in this nation,  many people, politicians and citizens alike, seem to neglect the very vital fact that the Constitution is a living document, designed to change with the times for the safety and happiness of ‘We the People.’ Once people are dying in the thousands for the sake of this one rule, changes must be made.

Those in favor of maintaining current regulations or even initiating looser oversights argue that people seeking to do widespread harm will find the weapons they want through illegal means if the government tightens gun regulations. They also claim ‘if we tighten control, sound-minded citizens won’t be able to buy defensive weapons.’  So. . . we should instead allow ill-intentioned people to obtain weapons capable of massive damage and terror easily and legally? Should we hand the guns to these criminals on a silver platter? With the way regulations currently stand, Paddock might as well have ordered all his near three dozen guns on Amazon, express delivery.

Why not make these terrible weapons exponentially more difficult to find and access for people who seek to do harm? Trying to buy guns illegally raises red flags instantly, alerting authorities to keep an eye on anyone who was so desperate for such destructive machines. In that case, the criminal would have a very difficult and costly time trying to get their hands on firearms, not to mention planning a plausible massacre scenario.

The efficiency and effectiveness of gun control is already evident in other nations, and could be just as impactful in the United States if we follow through to protect our citizens. In terms of ranking, the U.S. takes first place in both number of gun owned per capita and number of deaths by firearms among the more developed countries around the world. In contrast, where firearms are much more restricted, homicides are much rarer.

The Council on Foreign Relations has collected information on the regulations implemented in various nations and has compared their rules to the U.S.A.’s current state.

Canada: must have a license, a background check, a public safety course, a federal registration certificate from police; 172 gun-related deaths total to America’s 33,563 in 2012.

Australia: automatic and semiautomatic assault rifles prohibited, stiff licensing rules with ‘genuine need’ cited, temporary buyback period for guns, and firearm safety course; no gun-related mass killings since 1996.

These are just two exemplary nations with stricter, and more effective, gun control than America.

Admittedly, stricter gun control may not lower homicide and mass killing rates as much as we would hope. Another massive factor in the high amounts of gun-related violence is the extensive and deep-rooted “gun culture” in this country. Citizens here own an estimated 48% of all the guns in the world, and the firearms are constantly celebrated through media, television, and interest groups who spend millions in support of candidates who favor their loose-regulation policies. The solution for this is more complicated; it involves changing the psyche of the American public. Hopefully, if gun control tightens, then the culture will lose influence as well.

Here’s what needs to change: regular background and psychological tests should be implemented for gun owners and those who wish to own guns, citizens’ licenses should require certified and specific reasons to own firearms, amounts of ammo purchased per gun owned by a citizen should be strictly limited per a period of time, devices like bump stocks which allow non-restricted guns to be transformed into restricted weapons should be prohibited, and regular public safety courses should be required of all gun owners. The most effective strategy which would be both more easily enacted and less controversial is the buyback idea where, for a period of time, citizens can return their guns for a value slightly higher than what they initially purchased the firearms for..

Until the government decides on their next move, the citizens, including those of us who can’t yet vote, need to be active in transforming our nation to be a safer and happier place for all the current and future generations. A word of advice to the readers: keep up on the news, get involved, contact your representatives, and stay safe. Remain open-minded and considerate, but back up your beliefs. History looks kindly upon those who get involved.


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Treat the Cause, Not the Symptoms

After Las Vegas, the debate on gun control woke up from its dormancy, reared its ugly, thick head, and sent activists from both sides of the political spectrum on a crusade to fight for their respective ideologies and parties. With words and phrases like “evil,” “terrible” and other overblown rhetoric used to describe firearms being tossed around as often as Donald Trump says “China,” the argument on both sides is becoming less and less centered around the facts and focused more on feelings.

I’m here to tell you two things: the facts say gun control legislation will do virtually nothing to combat mass murder, and the facts don’t care about anyone’s feelings. You may consider the gun control issue nuanced, multifaceted and complicated. I don’t.

What do you do when you contract strep throat? Do you compulsively consume cough drops until you feel better, or do you visit your doctor and get a prescription of antibiotics? What do you do when you have a rock stuck in your shoe? Do you take frequent breaks from standing to tolerate the pain of walking on it, or do you take off your shoe and remove the rock? What do you do when hundreds of innocent lives are being threatened and taken by domestic attacks? Do you command clueless congressmen to write pointless legislation restricting the legal channels that can be used to purchase a weapon, only to be circumnavigated by criminals using illegal means to acquire weaponry, or do you treat the causes of the issue, mental illness and a divided, bitter society, through mental health care reform and societal change?

Looks pretty simple now, doesn’t it?

You’ve heard it before, but I’m bringing it up anyway. Chicago has some of the most extreme anti-firearm laws in the country, and they have some of the highest gun-related homicide rates. They may not have the highest rates per capita, but that doesn’t discount the magnitude of the 3,550 shooting incidents that occurred in the city in 2016 alone.

I’m not about to assert that strict gun laws increase gun violence, but they definitely don’t do much to stop it, according to the numbers. If you want a gun in Chicago, drive down to Indiana and pick one up. Their gun laws are much more libertarian than that of Chicago, and nobody is going to stop you from driving over the border of the two states.

Let’s take it a step further. What if we ban all guns in the country? We round up all legally registered guns from every gun owner and decommission them. That fixes our problem, right? Oh, if only.

There are three key ingredients here that will keep gun homicides going strong, regardless of the legality of firearms in the United States. First, illegal gun owners will not give up their guns, because they don’t have to. Big brother doesn’t know they exist. There isn’t paperwork on these firearms, so nobody has to hand them over. These are sold to people with malevolent intent on the black market, and shootings ensue.

Second, we are bordered by Canada and Mexico, two countries with plenty of firearms to go around. We have border amnesty with Canada, meaning that anyone can drive right over the border into the U.S., and the customs agents aren’t that hard to fool. If you ask someone like Pablo Escobar, you’ll know that there are plenty of ways to get things from Mexico to the U.S. without the authorities noticing. Guns can and will come from our North American neighbors, and criminals will do what they do without interruption.

Third, let’s not forget that we are operating under the blatantly false assumption that mass murder will simply halt with the eradication of firearms. I implore you to think back to the Boston Marathon of 2013. Remember how that turned out? Yeah, people died. A lot of them. And there were ZERO firearms used in the attack. It doesn’t take a chemist to figure out how to build a pipe-bomb either, and all of the materials are conveniently located down the street at your local home depot. Just ask the IRA.

What if we go all the way? What if we theoretically ban the production and ownership of firearms in the entire world?

An English gentleman by the name of Phillip A. Luty was a gun rights advocate in England during a period of firearm restriction in the 1990s. His argument against the British government was that, despite banning firearms, the banning of the knowledge used to create firearms is impossible. To prove this point, Luty took a casual stroll down to his local hardware store, bought a few construction materials, and built a fully-functioning 9mm blowback submachine gun in his garage by himself. He subsequently published a book titled Expedient Homemade Firearms detailing this process to anyone with the desire to read it.

This man built a fully-functional, fully-automatic submachine gun from scratch using zero parts from other firearms by himself in his garage. So what’s to stop the next mentally unstable perpetrator from building his own firearm when he can’t get one anywhere else? The knowledge cannot be banned, therefore the product of the knowledge cannot be eliminated.

So it’s settled, then. We’re stuck with guns, whether we like it or not. What in the world can we do to fix this thing? Here’s an idea: treat the cause.

Look back on every mass shooting in history. There are exactly two kinds of people that commit them: the mentally unstable and those willing to murder for their political or religious agendas ― which can arguably be considered a mental illness in and of itself. This is what we need to pour our taxpayer money into fixing. This is what is driving people to the brink, giving them the impulse to destroy human life on the largest scale possible. This is what media loves to ignore while they tout their polarizing messages, fueling the culture that produces these men and women who are willing to indiscriminately kill for the sake of their own ideals.

If you really want to solve this problem, make psychiatry an integral part of wellness checkups. Make therapy more affordable. Get rid of this toxic us-versus-them political climate that has been destroying us from the inside for decades. We’re all on the same team, but it seems that some people have forgotten that.

No amount of gun restriction legislation will ever fix the society that breeds the killer. And the killer couldn’t care less about your gun restriction legislation.

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