University of Texas, (1966). San Ysidro, (1984). Edmond, (1986). Killeen (1991). Virginia Tech (2007). Sandy Hook (2012). San Bernadino (2015). Orlando. (2016). Las Vegas (2017). Sutherland Springs (2017).
These are the sites of the deadliest mass shootings in modern United States history. These tragedies have become so frequent that there is no surprise or shock anymore, just anger and sadness. Every time a mass shooting occurs, a debate over gun control ensues.
Unfortunately, the conversation about gun control only arises after an incident where several people are killed at one time. But what about the 90 people who the Center for Disease Control states are killed on average each day in the U.S. (excluding suicides)? Even if we take mass shootings out of the equation, Everytown Research found more than 10,000 people still die each year from gun deaths in this country.
In the immediate aftermath of such events, talk about banning assault rifles is also sensationalized, but most gun deaths in the U.S. actually occur by handguns.
Guns should not be a partisan issue. Far too many people are dying for us to be so divided on this topic. The politics are hard, that’s well known, but there has to be something that we can do about it. Why should gun ownership be the price of our liberty?
There has to be a compromise between free reign of gun ownership and complete banishment of all firearms. The solution is out there.
There is the option of extreme background checks. Research has proven that background checks reduce the rate of overall gun deaths, including suicides. In 2007, Missouri repealed its permit-to-purchase law, which required a background check in order to obtain the license to purchase any firearm in the state. The Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research found that this repeal led to a 23 percent increase in gun homicides and a 16 percent increase in suicides.
However, a universal gun policy is not going to work for every state. It’s going to take an analysis of all the factors contributing to gun deaths in each state by their respective governments in order to devise a plan that will work for them. Yes, it’s going to take funding and time, but isn’t saving the lives of Americans worth it?
The major obstacle standing in the way of effective gun control is the political climate. To gun advocates, any mention of “control” is equal to the government seizing all weapons. Proper vetting or harsher penalties is not synonymous with abolishing the Second Amendment.
Responsible gun owners who abide by the law shouldn’t be afraid of reasonable regulations.
What’s shocking is that only about three percent of guns used in homicides are obtained at gun stores, while the other 97 percent are obtained through other means, according to the Preventive Medicine manual.
We must combat the extensive illegal gun trade.
The anecdote of, “If people want guns, people will get guns” is true — guns are obtained illegally on the Dark Web, through undocumented gun sales, and through theft. But gun sales don’t require a transfer of title of ownership. Anyone can sell guns to anyone else without governmental oversight, and before we know it, guns get into the hands of the wrong people.
A national gun registry is a great place to start. If original record holders of guns were held accountable for the crimes committed with that gun, people would be more vigilant in keeping track of their guns.
The gun problem in America is not going to change overnight. It will take years, and the cooperation of all state and municipal governments, as well as the federal government, to solve it. There are ways to change to our current policies without infringing on the Second Amendment.
It’s time to make a change. No more thoughts and prayers. No more vigils. We can’t stop every act of gun violence, but we must do better.
Story by Olivia Malick, UP staff writer