By Samantha Loomes
For too long America has allowed its people to succumb to their violent desires, it is time the fascination with guns ends along with the violence it brings. Crime and terrorism rates are at an all-time high with on average a murder a minute and frequent mass shootings. Just yesterday, 17 high school students were brutally murdered in a school shooting. This is the 18th episode involving gun death or injury at a US school this year alone.
The most deadly mass shooting was the shooting on October 1st, 2017 in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and wounding another 515. The war on guns and the violence they bring needs to be taken more seriously and it starts with making stricter laws. According to a 2017 British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) survey, about 40 percent of Americans say they own a gun or live in a household with one. Additionally, the rate of murder or manslaughter by firearm in America is the highest in the developing world. There were more than 11,000 deaths as a result of murder or manslaughter involving a firearm in 2016.
As Martin O’Malley, JD, former Governor of Maryland so aptly put it, “It’s time we called this what it is: a national crisis.” The ease at which guns of all calibres are sold in the US is alarming, to say the least, mental health screening for gun buyers in the United States is inadequate and often unjust.
A new standard must be developed that focuses on the danger a person poses—or whether or not that someone has a mental illness. The copious amounts of background tests for buying guns conducted in the United States take only minutes with a 2% rejection rate because of a disqualifying record in the shopper’s personal history, The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) being the people who vet potential buyers. There are those however that somehow manage to pass these checks despite a history that should prevent them from doing so. The gunmen in the Sutherland Springs, Texas, church shooting, Charleston, South Carolina, church massacre, and Virginia Tech rampage each had a history that banned them from owning firearms. Yet none were stopped, because of omissions and loopholes in the system.
The government should limit the types of guns a person can possess; semi-automatic, military-style firearms are designed for one purpose: to kill people in large groups, and quickly. They have no place in the US where they are nothing but a threat to law officers and citizens. The Colt AR-15, a gun frequently used in mass shootings, is a gun that is available for purchase in the US about 5 million American citizens already have. The gun can be purchased from anywhere between $350-$8000. The AR-15 can fire up to 400 rounds a minute. That’s 400 dead bodies in only a minute.
Gun supporters and enthusiasts alike have always praised and advocated the second amendment, and their right to bear arms “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Unfortunately, what they don’t realize is that the second amendment was created in a time when weapons were not nearly as advanced as they are today. James Madison was the original brains behind the Second Amendment. He proposed this law shortly after the Constitution was officially accredited as a way to provide more weapons to state militias. They champion an amendment that was written in a time far different to the one we are living in.
The second amendment was introduced on December 15, 1791, to the Bill of Rights. The fact that the second amendment was created in 1791, 227 years ago and that we still adhere to it, is ridiculous. We have changed and evolved from a time where the guns were muskets and flintlock pistols. We now have M134 General Electric Miniguns and AK rifles. Our weapons have evolved, they have become increasingly more dangerous. It only seems logical that laws should change with them. The unfortunate truth? The number one reason gun laws won’t change is because of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the people that support them. These people being Republican lawmakers in congress, every year the NRA donates millions of dollars to these lawmakers and in return, they all fall under the NRA’s control. They do their bidding and block every proposed gun control legislation that the NRA doesn’t approve of. The reason blood will continue to be shed is because lawmakers, the people intended to keep you safe are essentially accepting legal bribes. Since 2011 over 100 gun control proposals have failed in Congress because of these corrupt lawmakers.
Perhaps if these trigger happy gun lovers walked through the streets where children have to dodge bullets, where gangs run rampant and where violence is the norm, maybe then they would realize… The American people cannot keep burying their loved ones before their time is up. They cannot allow guns to be put into the hands of people who decide who lives and who dies. Action must be taken. Japan, for example, is the country that comes closest to a “zero tolerance” on gun ownership which has directly translated to extremely low rates of gun crime. The 1958 Japan gun law states the following, “No one shall possess a firearm or firearms or a sword or swords.” There are of course exceptions, but all of these exceptions have very strict restrictions, the kind that would cause outrage in America’s gun-crazed society.
Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, PhD, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, states that, “it is hard to find a rational justification that explains the ease with which people can buy firearms.” I agree with Al-Hussein completely and would have to ask, how many more mass killings of school-children, of co-workers, of African-American churchgoers — how many more individual shootings of talented musicians like Christina Grimmie, or politicians like Gabrielle Giffords, will it take before the United States adopts robust gun regulation?
Gun-crimes are not a concentrated illness they are an endemic that has swept through this nation leaving the seeds of evil behind.It is widespread and ever-present. The US is an infected nation in desperate need of a cure.