The Constitution to The United States gives its citizens the right to bear arms through the Second Amendment, but where should lines be drawn?
The United States of America has had 17 school shootings since January 1, 2018. We’ve had more than one school shooting per week this year. According to the gun violence archive, there have been nearly 200 shootings since 2000 resulting in 138 deaths caused by a gunman, and as many as 250 when you factor in accidental shootings.
It was not until the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, FL on February 14 that I learned the depths of this information, leading me to feel unsafe at school.
The Parkland shooting not only affected the students of Stoneman Douglas, but it also sent a shockwave of emotion throughout the entire country. The shooting also led to yet another discussion of gun laws in the United States.
To me, legislating further firearm restrictions through gun laws seems like common sense, but how many more children are going to have to die for there to be a change?
Many are trying to understand how raising the minimum age to buy a gun to 21, requiring universal background checks at all dealers, and screening the mental health of potential buyers hurts anybody. Perhaps the only people these modest reforms could hurt are the manufacturers and dealers who are selling these weapons and the elected officials who are being paid by the National Rifle Association not to pass new gun control laws.
I would say the laws won’t change until gun violence affects the companies or Congress themselves, but this idea simply is not true. In summer of 2017, shooter James Hodgkinson fired at least 70 rounds at members of Congress while practicing for their annual charity baseball game. Fortunately, no one was killed but several were severely injured including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (Republican, Louisiana). Thereafter, Congress did nothing to consider gun control.
Allegedly, the police were called to Hodgkinson’s home on multiple occasions for alleged abuse and firing rounds from a rifle at trees. If he had been convicted, he would have not been able to legally buy a gun. A stricter background check could have identified these red flags, and he would not have been able to buy the multiple rounds of ammunition he kept in a storage locker and visited shortly before the shooting.
The federal government only requires a background check for licensed sellers, like Walmart. A private, unlicensed dealer is not required to do any sort of background check. 1 in 5 gun sales happen though the loophole according to the Brady Campaign.
Some states have stricter gun laws such as California where all gun sales are required to go through a licensed dealer, but too many states don’t even look at a person’s mental health before allowing them to buy a gun.
According to authorities, the gun used by shooter Nikolas Cruz was bought legally. Shortly after the shooting, Cruz was found to have mental health issues and many red flags. Cruz had even been reported for cutting himself on Snapchat.
If the common denominator is the mental status of a person who commits a mass shooting, why don’t background checks look into that?
While the federal government requires minor background checks, it does not require permits or licenses. In 36 states, you don’t need to register a gun nor do you need a permit to buy or a license to own a gun.
Just to clarify, an 18 year old can walk into a store, with no check into their mental health, no license, no permit, no certificate of training, and still be able to buy as many guns as he wants. These are the same 18 year olds who are not responsible enough to legally drink or go to a bar.
It should not have to take students who have lost friends because of shootings or students who are afraid they could be next to point out that these laws are inconsistent and part of the problem, but that is what is happening currently.
Since Parkland, four new laws were passed because of the many protests led by students who are fed up.
One: Congress passed a $1.3 trillion spending package and a bill that incentives states who report more data to the national gun background system.
Two: The House passed a bill to fund school security that The White House says Trump will sign if it goes through Congress.
Three: Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill that raised the age limit to buy a gun to age 21, placed a three day hold on gun purchases, gives police new powers to commander weapons and ammunition from persons deemed a threat, and the creation of a measure to arm teachers.
Four: The Illinois Senate also passed a bill that raised the age limit to buy some guns to age 21.
There should have been a change when 12 students and a teacher were murdered in the Columbine shooting of 1999 or maybe when 32 people were killed in the Virginia Tech shooting of 2007. Or after any of the numerous other incidents in between and thereafter.
A parent should never have to drop their 11 year old off at school and worry that they may not make it back home. Rather than writing this article about how the lack of gun laws is killing innocent people, I should be worrying about what college I’m going to, or my chemistry homework.
Already, 250 lives have been taken because of school shootings that could have been prevented by stricter gun laws. How many more?