Gun Control: A Discussion

It seems that every time I open the news app on my phone, I see another article/story about the consequences of gun violence. I’m sure you have experienced the same, whether that be on your phone, from the TV, or overheard in the hallways.

Time and time again, we hear about someone who is in critical condition, on the verge of death, or who has already passed on due to gun violence. If we enforced stricter gun laws, it is very possible that the number of casualties and injuries would decrease significantly.

Charles Hennekens of Florida Atlantic University reported that in 2017, “there were 144 police officers who died in the line of duty… 1,000 active-duty militaries throughout the world who died, whereas 2,462 school-age children were killed by firearms.” Read that again. 2,462 school-age children, children who are our age, died from gun-related violence just in 2017.

While this number, on average, has decreased, it is all because the majority of students and school-age children were conducting school at home from 2020 to early 2021. There is no chance of a school shooting if the school is not open. It is infuriating that it took staying home for many to realize that gun-related violence at school has gotten out of hand.

As of August 9, 2021, Security.org stated, “Since Columbine, there have been 231 school shootings, not including misfires and stopped attempts. Out of these shootings, six have caused over 10 fatalities each.” Since then, there have been seven school shootings resulting in fatalities, taking the number up to 238 school shootings occurring after Columbine.

A complicated question that really shouldn’t be that complicated is if innocent students are continually being murdered in school buildings, why are the nation’s gun laws still the same? It’s not like it’s impossible to limit gun access. Six days after a mass shooting in New Zealand the entire country banned military-grade, semi-automatic rifles. The United States has the ability to do the same, yet they refuse to do so.

While the US could not outright ban firearms due to our second amendment right, laws could be passed that restrict who is granted access to guns and where that access is to be granted. For example, in Michigan, where the Oxford High School shooting took place, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to own a gun, but they may carry it with them.

I would get it if there have only been a few shootings and if they made access to guns stricter, however nothing of that sort has happened. I do understand the given right to bear arms, but I also understand that it was created as a form of self-defense, not of violence.

Something that never has sat right with me is why public places like stores, malls, schools, etc. don’t have stricter security protocols set in place. If we can’t limit gun use, we can at least secure places more efficiently, right? While most schools have Resource Officers, regular checks aren’t performed to ensure the safety of students and staff. If places like the mall had security in multiple different locations, the chance of a shooting occurring would decrease, and/or the response from law officials would happen quicker than it is now. On December 12, 2021, Marriotts Ridge Principal Tammy Goldesein sent out a message regarding an active shooter threat at the high school. She said, “there will be an increased police presence tomorrow morning (12/13/21) at school”, further proving that an increase in police presence could scare someone out of using firearms to cause harm.

Another issue presented by guns is the access that suicidal adolescents have to them. According to Harvard.edu, “suicides among youths ages 17 and under occurring over two years in four states and two counties found that 82% used a firearm belonging to a family member, usually a parent.” Teens who are in depressive states, acting on a temporary impulse, are given access to unlocked firearms, resulting in more innocent lives taken. To back up this point, The Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) said, “The risk of suicide death is three times higher for persons of any age who live in homes with, compared to without, firearms.” Depressive teens are three times more likely to die if they have access to firearms. WAMU, a public radio station in D.C reported the following regarding firearm numbers in the US. They said: “About 40% of Americans say they or someone in their household owns a gun, and 22% of individuals (about 72 million people) report owning a gun,” While that may not seem like a lot, that number means that teens are 40% more likely to commit suicide using a firearm if they are in a house that contains an unlocked gun.

I have found myself scared to go to school at certain times. If a shooting has just happened or if there was a threat nearby, I find it hard to build up the motivation to come to school. This is solely due to the fear of being caught in a situation where life or death come face to face. I’m not alone in this feeling. Pewresearch.org published a graph that shows that 57% of surveyed teens are anxious to go to school out of the fear of a school shooting. 64% of nonwhite teens are more fearful than their white peers.

What I am trying to say is that there are so many factors that go into why the United States needs stricter gun laws. When irresponsible adults and adolescents get their hands on firearms, mass chaos, suicide, and/or mass murder occur. We continue to see innocent people die at the hands of those who choose to be violent, and yet our government does very little to stop them. If we restricted gun access, increased security, and talked about the importance of gun safety, hopefully, the death count due to firearms would finally go down.

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