Editorial: The Issue of Gun Control

More than 350 people have died in school shootings since 1990. How did this happen?

Amanda Swank, Author

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Guns. One of the most traditionally American things, along with fireworks and Big Macs.

While plenty of people in this country and this community regularly use them for activities like hunting and target practice with no intentions of ever hurting another human being, the use of these weapons can become deadly.

The United States of America is no stranger to gun violence. With over 260 school shootings since 1990, the issue regarding gun control is a hot topic; the most recent being Parkland, Florida which left 17 people dead. Most of us can agree, something needs to change.

So what’s causing this epidemic? Is it our culture? The mentally ill? The accessibility of these weapons? All of these combined? And why hasn’t our government done anything about it? The first steps to change require us to figure out why.

One of the main arguments for stricter gun laws, or even a ban on guns is drawing parallels to other countries. Places like Australia and the U.K. have very strict laws regarding guns following mass shootings, and it appears to be working for them, so why not here?

While this seems like an idea that could possibly work, there is one major factor which sets the U.S. apart from these countries, our culture.

Distrust in our government has been around since before America was even a country. The fear of being unable to defend yourself, be it from other people or the government itself, is so prolific that many are against any form of restrictions on guns, reasonable or not.

More than 80% of guns used in mass shootings are obtained legally, and despite popular belief, it is much easier to buy a gun than you think. There is a 3 day waiting period to buy a firearm, and if your background check doesn’t go through in those days, you can legally obtain it without one. President Trump just recently repealed a mental health regulation that prevented certain individuals with mental health conditions from buying guns.

Federally licensed gun sellers are legally required to conduct background checks on potential buyers. However, not all gun sellers are required to be licensed, and some of these people sell at gun shows.

According to a nationalized survey conducted by professors at Northeastern and Harvard of 4,000 non-institutionalized adults found that 15% of people who purchased guns at gun shows, stores, etc., underwent no background check. That equates to around 5 million gun owners who bought guns without background checks.

At some point, the American people have to make a decision on how to prevent mass shootings. The answer isn’t clear right now, but I am completely sure in saying that the worst thing to do is nothing. We cannot wait around for the next Sandy Hook, or the next Parkland.

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Editorial: The Issue of Gun Control