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We Need to Keep Talking About Gun Control

In light of the Las Vegas shooting, it is time for Americans to take a good look at gun control policies. A gunman fired a semi-automatic weapon onto a crowded concert in Las Vegas, killing at least 59 and injuring over 500. This is the third time “Deadliest Mass Shooting in American History” has been in the headlines after the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. As an 18 year old, I have seen this headline 3 times since the age of 13.

According to the National Gun Database, in 2017 alone, there have already been 273 mass shootings. This means that 273 times this year, four or more people have been killed by a gun, and this is only day 276. This does not include the numbers of unintentional shootings (1,500), times where children were injured or killed (545) or suicides (22,000 annually, about 62% of all deaths). Increasing gun regulations would lower these rates while protecting people’s Second Amendment right to bear arms, yet people still strongly oppose regulations.

The first issue with pro-gun activists is suicide by firearm. About 62% of gun-related deaths are suicides, some people argue that there are other ways to commit suicide, yet there is almost 83% fatality rate when a gun is involved. This means that someone is more likely to succeed if a gun is used, but 9/10 survivors of suicide attempts do not die by suicide. More limited access to guns could potentially decrease self-inflicted deaths by firearm.

When considering regulations, there are many different things to keep in mind: background checks, firearm training, federal classes, tests, psychological evaluations and banning semi-automatic weapons. In 1993, the European Union set in place a series of laws banning certain weapons and implementing evaluations of the potential buyer. Since then, the gun homicide rate has been down almost 49% and only about 5% of global mass shootings happen in Europe. Studies show that more gun-ownership directly correlates with more gun homicides. In the wake of a public gun-related attack, however, rates of gun ownership increase. This is where the real issue of regulations comes up.

Gun violence does not have to be expected as a normal occurrence in the U.S.

The right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed” is a sentence the founding fathers wrote in the 18th century. This was a time where people were constantly under attack and reinforces the idea that people had the power. With 18th-century gun technology, people had muskets that could fire 2-3 rounds a minute if used by an expert. This means that if all weather conditions were just right, the shooter could concentrate and the gunpowder was stable, the most people injured could be 3. This is different now because a semi-automatic weapon is something created to damage humans and can generally shoot 40 rounds per minute. This is no longer the 18th century, which is why new gun regulations are necessary.

Current U.S. Federal Firearm regulations include a background check and two forms, regulations vary by state but states with the highest rates of gun fatalities have the least gun regulations. Unfortunately, these only apply to non-private sales. When a gun is bought privately at a gun show or through a transfer, there are times where the buyer does not have to go through a background check. About 40% of gun owners say that they did not do a background check when purchasing their firearm.

This brings up a larger issue than just mass shootings in the U.S.: people are not being psychologically evaluated and sometimes don’t even have a basic background check before buying an item that has the potential to ruin lives. Why does the U.S. have such a hard time realizing that gun violence is not an “everyday thing” but something that can be regulated without people losing their “basic rights”? When gun rights are brought up in state or federal governments, call your senators, congresspeople and state representatives and urge them to stand with gun regulations. This could change gun violence and deaths and impact the future of the United States of America.

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