America’s grim history of gun violence

By Mike Hamill

As of Sept. 1, 2019, there have been 283 mass shootings in the United States, according to data from the nonprofit organization Gun Violence Archive (GVA), which tracks every mass shooting in the country.

The GVA defines a mass shooting as any incident in which at least four people were shot, excluding the shooter.

The number of mass shootings across the United States thus far in 2019 has outpaced the number of days this year, according to GVA.

This puts 2019 on pace to be the first year since 2016 with an average of more than one mass shooting a day.

The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting is said to be the deadliest mass shooting at a grade school or a high school in U.S. history. This was also ranked as the 4th deadliest shooting by a single person in U.S. history. The shooter was 20 years old.

After Sandy Hook, a December 2012 shooting in Newtown, Conn., we hoped to never see another mass shooting.

Since then, another 2,250 mass shootings have happened.

According to Everytown For Gun Safety, a non-profit organization that tracks school shootings, since the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, 142 school shootings have occured in America alone.
How many more shootings will there be before our leaders pass common-sense laws to prevent gun violence and save lives?

Although there has been debate over whether gun laws are strict enough and what else can be done to reduce such acts from occurring, nothing comes of it.

Communities all over the country live in fear of gun violence. That’s unacceptable. We should feel secure in sending children to school — comforted by the knowledge that they’re safe.
There are even more cases of children and young adults engaging in violence or getting caught in the crossfire.

I don’t believe we should ban guns altogether, because this policy would be impossible due to the Second Amendment. I do believe getting rid of certain guns, such as semi-automatic weapons, may help remedy the issue, but it may not be enough to make the problem go away completely.

A stricter policy could include making it harder to buy guns, only allowing hunters to “rent” guns, and changing the buying and renting age limit to 21, thereby keeping weapons out of the hands of young, inexperienced children.

By doing this, school violence related to guns would greatly and rapidly decrease. Consider the following examples of school shootings, all of which had shooters who were under the age of 21.

On April 20, 1999, two seniors at Columbine High School, who grew to hate the school and community after being bullied, killed 13 people and wounded 24 others.

On Feb. 14, 2018, a 19-year old gunman opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people and injuring 17 others.
There are age limits for driving, smoking, and drinking, so if a teen can’t have a beer, why should he be able to own a gun?

It breaks the hearts of Americans when a child or teenager gets killed by a gun.
For example, in a poll done by The Philadelphia Inquirer, one out of five adults knows or knew a child who was shot by another child, and 12 percent of adults knows or knew a child who accidentally shot themselves.

Yet in response to the relatively low number of vaping-related deaths that have occured, President Donald Trump and top health officials have actively discussed ways to ban the e-cigarettes products from teenagers.

According to Centers for Disease Control, there have been 11 vaping related deaths in the United States. It’s great to see the government is protecting its citizens from harmful objects, before the death count gets out of hand.

But the numbers previously mentioned about mass shootings hasn’t garnered as much governmental change as vaping, which has a far lower death count. This is absurd and offers little hope that this problem will be fixed anytime soon.

Other parts of the world have certain types of guns that are illegal for citizens to own.
Why can’t America?

Following the March 2019 Christchurch shooting, in which 51 people were killed, New Zealand’s government announced it will be reforming the country’s gun laws.

According to the GunPolicy.org website, maintained by the University of Sydney, New Zealand currently has gun laws that are more restrictive in comparison to some countries but more permissive than others, such as Australia’s.

In New Zealand, people must have a license to own guns, and the license requires background checks.

While dealers must keep a record of the guns they sell, most guns are not required to be tracked in a central register to monitor changes in ownership through private sales.

But enforcing background checks and eliminating certain guns from the equation is just a part of the solution.

Gun violence creates problems on different levels, including within local communities.
People under the age of 21 should be required to obtain a probationary gun license before being able to receive a license to own a gun.

I understand gun ownership in the United States is rooted in the Second Amendment of the Constitution: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

However, the right is not unlimited. Throughout history, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld some firearms restrictions, such as bans on concealed weapons and on the possession of certain types of weapons, as well as prohibitions against the sale of guns to certain categories of people.

The reality is current laws within the country are not leading to any meaningful gun safety reforms.

The obvious consequence is that gun violence numbers will rise and soon our country may eclipse double the number of mass shootings than days in a year.

So if you hope for gun legislation changes like I do, vote in the next election for candidates who support gun safety legislation and who are in favor of sensible gun reform laws.

Contact Mike Hamill at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

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