Over 132 mass shootings have occurred in the U.S. in less than 15 years, according to the Gun Violence Archive, the most recent one being in Las Vegas just three weeks ago. The most devastating part about this is that there are undeniable ways to prevent the occurrence of mass shootings. However, since much of the American population’s attention has been focused on a variety of political disputes, it has become increasingly painless to ignore one of our country’s most fatal defects: lack of gun control. Gun control is a topic that is consistently lowered in stature as a result of more “pressing issues” until a tragedy, such as the one in Las Vegas, occurs.
In the days following mass shootings, we often observe politicians and lawmakers sending their “prayers and condolences” to the innocent people that have fallen victim to lax gun control. Many of these high-ranking men and women purport to disavow acts of mass violence with firearms, but at the same time, support the National Rifle Association (NRA) and promote a more expansive interpretation of the Constitution’s Second Amendment right to bear arms. Jimmy Kimmel turned his attention to these politicians and lawmakers and said that they, “should be praying that God will forgive them for letting the NRA dictate this country’s gun policies.”
It is misleading to limit our understanding of the full impact of gun violence in the United States to the sheer numbers of mass shootings — our collective plight does not end here. According to the Bureau of Justice, an average of 92 Americans fall victim to firearm inflicted wounds every day. These statistics certainly can be attributed to the over 310 million firearms currently present in our country. According to a 2012 Congressional Research Service report, The United States has approximately 112 guns for every 100 citizens; for a country that has almost more guns than citizens, it should come as no surprise that so many tragedies occur on a routine basis. Nor, should it startle us to learn that 58 people take their own lives by a gun every day, according to the Trace.org. Are we hypocritical to mourn the loss of our own while at the same time facilitating and even promoting the sale of firearms? By allowing lobbyists to successfully argue for anti-gun control laws, we are complicit in enabling many of our fellow Americans to effortlessly end lives. This notion is omitted from political rhetoric.
I believe that in order to prevent many of the firearm-induced issues our country faces, we must set further restrictions on the second amendment. We must focus on understanding how to allow law-abiding gun owners to exercise their rights while at the same time anticipate deaths resulting from guns in cases such as domestic abuse, suicide, and homicide. There must be a compromise in which a person’s rights should not be valued over countless human lives.
In order to work towards this goal, restrictions such as the requirement of safety training, safe storage, registration and extensive verification, and eliminating privatized sales of weapons must be, at the least, considered. Moreover, basic restrictions such as banning the sale of high-capacity magazines, high-powered weapons, silencers, requiring ID at purchase, and requiring an extensive “reason for purchase”, such as filling out an application for a hunting rifle or other intended uses are necessary in order to reduce gun related deaths.
We must correct the serious imbalance between the weight politicians afford to lobbyists who argue in favor of the right to bear arms and the basic human right and dignity to live in a society that values and protects lives.