America has a gun problem. 

In this January alone, there were over 39 mass shootings contributing to the death of at least 69 individuals, and around 1,700 people have died as a result of gun violence. Of all these shootings, very few made national headlines ­– if the incident occurred outside of your hometown, chances are that you did not hear about it. 

There is not an official consensus on an exact definition; however, a mass shooting is most commonly defined as an incident in which at least four people are shot with a firearm and either injured or killed, not including the perpetrator. These incidents happen so often in the United States that we have come to brush over most of them, and the ones that do make national coverage seem to only get talked about for a few days before we move on. Rallying cries for gun control soar across social media for those few days then seem to die back down. 

Gun control in the United States is one of the most polarized topics, especially along party lines. This should not be an issue up for debate, though. Lives are at stake, and too many have been taken due to a lack of legislative action. Gun control laws need reevaluation if we want to be serious about reducing the number of mass shootings that occur far too often in the United States. 

In the eyes of many of its opposers, gun control means “taking away the guns of citizens.” This is a misconception, however, as gun control can come in many forms, including requiring firearm safety training before individuals can purchase or carry a gun, creating safe storage gun laws, and implementing universal background checks. These laws do not aim to “take away the rights of American citizens,” rather, they look to prevent accidental deaths and impulsive gun violence. If we are looking to prevent mass shootings, it has to start with stricter gun laws.  

There is not much question to whether or not strict gun laws work. Take a look at several other rich countries, such as Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan, and you will see that their strict gun laws, often implemented after severe acts of gun violence, are effective in keeping their gun violence rates among the lowest in the world. Their gun laws do not take away guns from their citizens, but rather have restrictions on the types of guns a person can buy and require rigorous background checks and safe gun storage. These laws save countless lives, and the United States could look into implementing similar federal laws without necessarily taking away the guns of citizens. 

Universal background checks are a generally agreed-upon safety measure when it comes to gun control. Federal law requires that when an individual tries to buy a gun from a license gun dealer, a background check must be conducted. This ensures that the individual is legally allowed to buy the gun. This law does not apply to unlicensed gun dealers, however, and people with legal prohibitions to obtain guns can use this loophole to obtain guns from these dealers. Universal background checks would simply ensure that all gun purchases are legal, ensuring the safety of many people across the United States. 

Safe storage and Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws also play an important role in preventing gun violence. These laws help prevent children and unauthorized persons (such as those legally prohibited from owning guns) from accessing guns in a home and work to prevent accidental gun violence. These laws require that guns are secured in a safe, locked space, unloaded and in a separate place from ammunition. In cases where a minor has access to a gun, states with CAP laws place the fault on the adult that did not safely secure it. Laws like these can play a major role in preventing youth accidental shootings and suicides. 

Waiting period laws are another measure that can help prevent acts of gun violence. These laws would require that an individual attempting to buy a gun would have to wait a certain amount of time before they are able to obtain the gun. Waiting periods may seem like an unnecessary bump in the road to gun ownership; however, they can be effective in preventing impulsive acts of gun violence. If the buyer is truly interested in having the gun for purposes that will not result in gun violence, waiting a few days should not be an issue. 

39 mass shootings in a month alone should not be something so casually brushed over; it should be a call to action and effective change. Stricter gun laws are necessary for saving the countless lives that will be affected by gun violence if we continue to sit back and do nothing. The United States is long overdue for gun law reevaluation, and it is something that needs to happen sooner rather than later if we want to create a safer future for all. 

Posted by Campus Carrier

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