By Ariel Steinsaltz
Mass shootings in the U.S. have produced a staggering number of victims in the last decade. No place seems exempt, from the 20 Newtown, Connecticut first grade students and faculty members in 2012 to the 58 concertgoers in Las Vegas last October, and now the 17 people at a Florida high school on Wednesday, Feb. 14.
It is disturbingly common to turn on the news and hear about yet another tragic mass shooting with innocent victims. After each incident, politicians and gun lobbyists say that it’s too soon to talk about gun control.
It’s not too soon — it’s too late. Every time a shooting occurs, it is because we have waited too long to take the necessary measures to stop it.
These tragic stories are far from the only gun violence happening in this country. Large-scale gun violence has escalated in recent years — of the 30 deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history, 19 have happened in the last decade, according to CNN.
While there is no official definition for what exactly constitutes a mass shooting, a general definition is a shooting where at least four people are shot or killed. By this standard, there have already been 30 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2018, according to ABC.
Mass shootings are not the only issue — most gun-related deaths in the country are suicides, and there are many accidental gun deaths each year, according to BBC.
All forms of gun violence need to be stopped.
Opponents of gun control often cite the Second Amendment of the Constitution and its infamous statement about the right to bear arms. Those in support of guns often ignore the full text of the amendment, which states, “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.”
The first clause is a precursor to the second — since a “well regulated militia” is no longer a part of our country, the right to bear arms is no longer necessary. The founding fathers were envisioning the primitive pistols and rifles of the time, and legislators need to take the modern advancement of firearm technology into account when addressing gun control.
Banning fully-automatic assault rifles seems like the most basic and necessary step towards solving the mass shooting epidemic in the U.S. Those who use guns for hunting would still be able to do so with a semi-automatic gun, and those who want to use a gun for self defense certainly don’t need a military-grade rifle to defend themselves.
Gun licenses, background checks and safety courses should also be required, and people with severe mental illnesses should not be allowed to purchase guns.
There are those who claim that such regulations would be ineffective, as they believe people kill people, not guns. Yes, people kill people, but they most often do it with guns.
This country has a serious gun obsession. Nearly half of all civilian-owned guns in the world are in the U.S., according to CNN.
In the U.S., there have been 1,843 shooting deaths in 2018 alone, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
Almost as many people die from gun violence as car crashes, with an average of 27 people dying from firearm homicides in the U.S. every day. Other wealthy Western countries come nowhere near as close to this number of deaths — the second-highest country, Canada, has five gun-related deaths per day, according to The New York Times.
We as a nation need to do something about this problem — there is no telling who the next victim of gun violence will be.
“If the shooter had mental health issues, why was he able to get a gun? We need background checks.”
“We need to have proper background checks and at least highly regulate the most deadly weapons.”