It’s not a people problem, It’s a gun problem
Despite there being over 300 mass shootings in the United States since the start of 2018, there seems to be little progress to prevent this further. The right to bear arms seems to be more important than human lives.
Guns have always been ingrained in American culture. Being just under five percent of the world’s population, Americans own about 35-50 percent of the world’s guns according to a report by the Switzerland based small arms survey. This makes the United States number one in firearms per capita. Here, they are considered almost a necessity to “protect yourself” as I have heard many people say. In some instances, I can understand how having a handgun can assure someone’s safety, however I do not understand the need for an AR-15 or any type of assault weapon.
After every large scale mass shooting, lawmakers and people in political power like to send out their “thoughts and prayers” on Twitter or in a formal statement, but do not take any further steps to pass gun control laws. There have been a few instances where gun laws have been passed as a response to mass shootings. One example is after the Las Vegas shooting in 2017, many states took action to ban bump stocks, something that was used in that shooting to enable a semi-automatic weapon to shoot almost as fast and efficiently as an automatic one. From the years 1994 and 2004, there was a federal ban on assault weapons and large capacity magazines, but this ban expired. Small steps like these are both necessary and allow hope for a future without gun violence, but the United States still has a long way to go. There were no federal laws banning semi-automatic weapons, military-style .50 caliber rifles, handguns or large-capacity magazines as of 2017.
The unfortunate truth about living in the United States is that I find myself waiting nervously for the next shooting. When it comes around, it gets talked about and is then dismissed as a normal occurrence. We have become so used to this that just days after the Borderline Bar and Grill Shooting this past November, people have already stopped talking about it. Mass shootings should not be treated as normal, and they should definitely not be treated like there is nothing we can do about it.
After the high school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida, the high schoolers affected started to take the gun violence program into their own hands. Some of the students, including the now graduated seniors Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, created the “March for Our Lives” movement which states on their website: “In the days after the tragedy in Parkland, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students strived to ensure that what happened at their school never happens again. As a nation, we continue to witness tragedy after tragedy, yet our politicians remain complacent. The Parkland students, along with young leaders of all backgrounds from across the country, refuse to accept this passivity and demand direct action to combat this epidemic.” This is the most I have seen done after a mass shooting, and it wasn’t even by politicians.
I believe that it is possible to reduce the amount of gun deaths in America, and it is definitely possible to reduce the amount of mass shootings. We need to start changing our main focus from issues with people and start to turn it towards issues with guns. A common argument used by pro gun lawmakers, and even just everyday Americans, is that mass shootings are a problem with mental health. I have had someone even tell me that shooters shoot because their parents were divorced. The fact of the matter is that people will always have mental health issues and blaming mass shootings on it not only labels people with mental disorders as violent, but it also just isn’t the whole truth. Shootings all have one thing in common: they all involve guns. We can control who can buy and sell guns a lot easier than we can control people and their mental health. There is a solution to gun violence in America. It starts with legislation and active participation by everyday people. Mass shootings need to stop being another news story.