February 5, 2020
In the United States, there is a 60% chance that there will be at least one mass shooting today. Unfortunately that is the startling reality of living in the United States in 2020. Since 1982, there have been several hundred mass shootings nationwide. As devastating as it may sound, each year brings a larger number of fatalities from mass shootings. In 1999, Columbine High School experienced one of the most memorable mass shootings in the history of the United States. Thirteen lives were lost on this devastating day in history. Eighteen years later, Las Vegas, Nevada, experienced a mass shooting with nearly quadruple the death toll. Fifty-eight lives were lost in the largest mass shooting the United States has witnessed. The people who commit these crimes are able to get access to guns with the snap of their fingers.
People with malicious intent are able to purchase guns fairly easily in the United States. The gun availability in the United States is much larger than in other countries as well. According to BBC News, people in other countries are shocked at how easily guns can be purchased and how inexpensive they are. A gun that is commonly used in mass shootings, like the Las Vegas shooting, is an assault rifle. To purchase an assault rifle in the United States, there are only a few requirements citizens must meet. One of these requirements is being 18 years of age or older. In the United States you have to be 21 years of age or older to purchase a simple alcoholic beverage or a pack of cigarettes. Which leads to the question, why can you purchase a military grade weapon before you can purchase alcohol or cigarettes?
Yet these statistics continue to be ignored by our nation’s leaders. Most politicians in office turn a blind eye as our schools become a battleground. President Trump, it’s time to open your eyes and see that change needs to be made in order for the country to become “great again”. Citizens shouldn’t have to fear large crowds, open spaces, and school hallways. This country needs to protect its people, not its weapons. It’s time to realize we have a problem when the N.R.A is receiving more funding than our schools. Students already live in a constant state of stress as standardized testing pounds at their brain. They shouldn’t have to live in a constant state of fear every time an announcement utters over the loudspeaker. Will today be the day we hear, “This is not a drill”? Will today be the day that we all have to pile into the corner fearing for our lives as we hear gunshots ringing loudly in the halls?
Our students should not have to stand up against a problem that is obviously affecting entire communities — our entire nation. We need to take suggestions from those who have been impacted directly by firearm violence. With tears streaming down her face, Emma Gonzalez, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor, shared her story in hopes of impacting the lives of others. She wanted people to understand just how quickly tragedy can strike. “Fight for your lives before it’s someone else’s job.”
If we do not protect our society, our next politicians, presidents, and brain surgeons will not live to save all of the lives they could. They will not live to impact the world. We have to establish stricter gun laws and evaluate the validity of opinions. We have to understand that not all arguments presented are necessarily truthful. The common argument against stricter gun control is protection. In a dangerous situation, the victim, who in this circumstance is armed could protect themselves. Many gun rights activists use the phrase,“the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” However, the Harvard research center conducted a research project and was able to prove that statement to be false. In a poll answered by 300 sexually assaulted women, none of them were able to use a gun to protect themselves against armed predators. The data also presented the idea that people who carry a gun are no less likely to be injured than someone who carries another type of protection. But people still continue to argue that placing stricter laws on guns will not prevent gun violence. Although, that is not necessarily the truth. In locations like Japan, there is a small amount of gun ownership and the majority of guns are banned. With this comes an even lower rate of gun crime. According to the most recent data available on the The Guardian website, there were less than five gun-related deaths 2012-2013. Unfortunately in the United States those numbers were not as low. In 2017, firearms were the cause of 39,773 deaths.
So with that said, here are a few suggestions for legislation. A complete ban on firearms will upset many people, so here are a few alternatives to help save lives. Background checks need to be run before allowing any purchases of firearms. This will help limit the availability of firearms to criminals. Another option, is making military grade weapons, like AR-15s not available to the general public. Many military grade weapons are used in mass shootings and this would help cut down the number of lives lost in due to these weapons. If neither of these options seem to fit in the United States future, there is another available path of action. Making the process of purchasing firearms much more difficult will limit the amount of people who have access to them.
At this rate, firearm crimes will only intensify and the number of fatalities connected with these events will continue to rise. The first school shooting I can remember as a sixteen year old student, is Sandy Hook Elementary, which was when I was in elementary school. I remember feeling absolutely terrified. I don’t want my kids to have to experience the same feeling, but intensified, because the gun violence has continually increased and will continue to if proper legislation is not in place. Each day shootings get closer and closer to home and I cannot help but wonder — will someone I know be next? Will I be next?