We Need to Talk about Gun Control

by Alexia Porter, Columnist

Image credit: Gun Violence Archive Online. Gun violence incidents Jan. 1- Oct. 4, 2017.

What follows is a op-ed column by student writer Alexia Porter that breaks down news, provides informative resources, and shares her views on what’s going on in the United States. The views do not represent the editorial opinions or content of the Siskiyou or Southern Oregon University. 

As most everyone knows by now, a 64 year old, white, male terrorist opened fire on a crowd of twenty-two thousand country music fans on the Las Vegas strip. So far, 59 people have died and 527 injured making this America’s deadliest mass shooting in modern history.

“America’s deadliest mass shooting” is a phrase that has been used to describe four different events in just ten years. It has been reported by the Gun Violence Archive that the Las Vegas shooting is the 273rd mass shooting this year, which means four or more civilians are being gunned down in a single event, on average, every nine out of ten days.

Looking at the data from the countries with the next highest numbers, they don’t even reach halfway to our numbers according to The American Journal of Medicine. There are over 265 million guns owned by about one-third of the 245 million adult citizens. If that’s not bad enough, we also own almost half the total number of civilian-owned guns in the world with only four percent of the global population. States with the most guns— Wyoming, Montana, and Alaska— have the highest number of gun deaths. This is true for other countries, although nowhere near the numbers we boast.

Tragedies like Vegas result in sorrow, talk of “thoughts and prayers,” and debates on gun control and the Second Amendment. I believe we need to modify this amendment somehow based on the fact that America leads the developed world in number of homicides by firearm per year. According to Vox News, this is solely an American problem  and has everything to do with our lax legislation surrounding the ownership of firearms.

Listen, I could sit here and spit out all the data proving a direct correlation between number of guns owned and number of gun-related deaths all day and night and some of you still will not care. I get it. I do. Americans love their guns and their Second Amendment. What’s interesting to me are all the different defenses for guns.

A lot of people keep saying that cars kill more people per year than guns. While those people are definitely not wrong, I think it’s important to note that, given the population of the United States, we rank one hundred thirty one of one hundred seventy two countries on World Health Ranking for road traffic accidents Why? Let’s take the number one country, Iran. According to the Majlis Research Center, their citizens have a blatant disregard for most basic safety laws like wearing seatbelts and helmets on motorcycles. In addition the MRC reports that many of the vehicle manufacturers leave out many safety features in order to make them affordable. The roads are often damaged and dangerous to drive on without these safety features. In other words, things that can be improved by government or legislative intervention like we have in the United States. Hopefully you’re following me here.

Image credit: Vox. Graph shows states with more guns correlate to more gun deaths.

Alcohol is another case I see thrown around, and as we all know, Prohibition failed. This is one of the better pro-gun arguments because we rank thirty nine of one hundred seventy two on the World Health Ranking in alcohol-related deaths and because we have tried to ban alcohol in our past. In my research, I was shocked to find that we clocked in behind countries like France, Germany, and Russia where “binge-drinking” is not as influential to their cultures as it is here.

Europe leads the world in alcohol consumption, and with lower legal drinking ages it makes sense that those countries have higher alcohol-related deaths. The thing is, alcohol is not banned in any of these countries because it does not work. Banning things that are normal in a society is unreasonable and often makes circumstances worse. Although I will say that producing your own alcohol is much easier than producing your own firearm, which is why Prohibition failed but banning firearms could potentially work. I digress.

Nobody is trying to ban your guns. Okay. Some people are but we all know that is not going to happen– at least not overnight. Even if we did try to ban guns and it worked, wouldn’t you rather have peace of mind knowing thousands of innocent citizens are alive because we gave up our guns rather than allow them to die?

People in Las Vegas, Sandy Hook, and Columbine are dead because “responsible” gun-owners refuse to understand the difference between “control” and “ban.” Gun control means you still get to have your guns, we just want to be absolutely certain you aren’t going to abuse that right. Passing legislation on anything that threatens a citizen’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is fundamental to upholding American society.

In all the arguments I have seen in opposition to stricter gun laws, I have not once seen a single solution. We cannot just sit here staring at this data, watching people attending concerts or going to school being shot down on the news and say things like, “If they wanted to kill them they would do it with or without the guns,” or “We’re not taking away my second amendment rights so there’s nothing else we can do.”

We cannot just sit here and do nothing. The only way we will find a solution is if we do something. Honestly, I think it’s better to try to prevent deaths and figure out what doesn’t work than sit here watching four more of “America’s deadliest mass shooting in history’s” in the next decade and have to accept that as normal.

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