There is no doubt that gun violence is prominent in America. Even though no mass shootings have been at the forefront of the American conscious recently, approximately 33,000 people are killed in the United States by guns each year. The numbers are unreasonably high. Nearly 30 times more people are killed by guns in the United States than in Britain each year. Some of these deaths are preventable through background checks, which block the sale of firearms to people who the government deems “dangerous.” Contrary to popular belief, Congress – not the president – has the power to pass bills that implement background checks.
Donald Trump, a fervent member of the Republican party, which typically does not support restrictive gun regulations, has mentioned that even he supports some kind of gun control. He said to Clinton, “I have the endorsement of the NRA [National Rifle Association], which I’m very proud of, these are very, very good people, and they are protecting the Second Amendment. But I think we have to look very strongly at no fly-lists and watch lists.” Trump alone does not have the power to enforce background checks even if he wins the presidency.
But the fact remains that nine in ten Americans support basic background checks – a law the NRA is adamantly against – on gun sales. Background checks are not currently required when purchasing guns in many states at gun shows and online, which allows anyone to purchase a gun with a dangerous amount of anonymity. Even though the vast majority of people believe that more background checks are necessary for safety, they are being ignored by government representatives.
While the uniqueness of our candidates this presidential election has captured the interests of many, we must remember the vital role that members of Congress play in representing the American people. This November, 34 Senate seats must be filled, and it would be foolish to underestimate the role these politicians play in Congress. Issues like gun reform often come up during presidential debates, but it is really the Legislative Branch that has the most power when passing bills that would enforce background checks. Most Andover students cannot vote, but politics are far from ignored on campus. To have truly productive conversations about the course the United States is taking over the next decade, we have a responsibility to recognize this fall that there are many elections taking place that deserve our criticism and attention, and they just might influence the safety of our lives.
Cedric Elkouh is an Associate Online Producer for The Phillipian. He is a two-year Upper from Enfield, NH.