Hey America, time to get rid of the guns

Callaghan Bartlett


(October 19, 2015)

Imagine someone told you that there is a disease that has killed more than 400,000 people from 2001 to 2013, and has already killed more than 10,000 people in 2015 alone. You would want someone to do something about this disease, right? Wouldn’t you want the government, which we entrust to keep the public safe, to take immediate action? I think we can all agree it would be absolutely unacceptable for our leaders to stand idly by while hundreds of thousands die. But here’s the catch: this is real, but it’s not a disease, it’s something much more simple: guns. Or, more accurately, 357 million guns, which means there is more than one gun per person in the United States. America’s lax gun laws have created an environment in which it is too easy for people who are mentally ill to get their hands on guns and go shoot up schools and movie theaters. It has also created a situation in which guns are so prevalent that people are dying simply because they have access to a gun, whether it be a child or a teen playing with their parent’s gun, or someone trying to take their own life. The U.S. trumps all other developed nations when it comes to gun violence. Our government must take immediate action to update our outdated gun laws, and dare I say, amend our Constitution, which gives citizens the right to bear arms. I know this gets gun enthusiasts all heated, but I think we’ve come to a point where your desire to own guns because you like them, or your claim that they are for protection, are so much less valid than the fact that guns are needlessly killing thousands of people.

The issue of gun control was once again brought to the attention of the American public with the shootings at Umpqua Community College in Oregon on October 1. The gunman, who was reported to have three firearms on him, managed to kill nine people and injure eight more. Apparently, his desire to kill was centered around Christianity blah blah mental illness blah blah. These things really don’t matter. What matters is he had access to a gun, or rather three guns, and because of this nine people are dead. But this has become routine in America. President Obama perfectly summed it up with his response to the shooting.

“Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it. We’ve become numb to this.”

He’s right. We’re so accustomed to shootings like these that we’ve become numb. And because we’re numb, no action is taken. Mass shootings have become the norm. Names like Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook have become synonymous with mass shootings. Shootings like these have been prevalent in this country for a long time, and it’s not getting any better. It’s getting worse. When the shooting happened, October 1, there had been 274 days in 2015. Including the Umpqua shooting, the number of mass shootings, defined as an incident in which four or more are killed or injured by gunfire, rose to 294. This means there has been, on average, more than one mass shooting per day.

The mass shootings and crazed gunmen, while a huge issue, are only the surface of the gun issue in America. It’s what the media covers, but the bulk of firearm deaths are by suicide. In 2012, 64 percent of firearm deaths from gun violence were suicides, according to research published in the Annual Review of Public Health. Again, because of America’s lax gun laws, people have easy access to guns, and because of it, people are dying. One might argue that someone who wants to commit suicide is going to do so no matter what, whether it be with a gun or not. But suicide is usually an impulsive decision, and often someone who has attempted suicide can be talked down, or receive medical attention because they are not successful, and they have the chance to realize that suicide is not what they want. With guns, this doesn’t happen. Suicide attempts that involve guns result in death over 90 percent of the time. Easy access to a tool which is so effective at ending human life is causing too many preventable deaths. This is unacceptable.

I think most people can agree that we need to do something about the gun issue in America. Yes, we should take action to make it harder for someone who has the intention of hurting others to get guns, and more extensive background checks would be helpful in this pursuit. But just focusing on preventing these mass shootings isn’t going to be effective in putting a stop to gun violence. We absolutely want and need to stop people from shooting up schools, but this isn’t the only facet of gun violence we need to focus on. Again, suicide by firearm is the largest portion of gun violence in America. People who have access to a gun are twice as likely to be killed and three times more likely to successfully commit suicide. According to the Oxford Journal, regardless of storage practice, type or number of guns, having a gun in the home increases the risk of firearm homicide and suicide.

What it comes down to is that we simply have to take away the guns. This is where people are going to get pretty heated. You can cry all you want and flaunt your second amendment right, but I do seriously question whether or not this should be your constitutional right. “You can’t take away my guns, it’s my right as an American citizen!” you might say. Well, replace the word “guns” with “slaves” and you sound like the plantation owners of the 1800s who made a similar argument about the abolition of slavery. While I don’t equate you to slave-owners in the slightest, I do think this argument about guns can be boiled down to the same argument slave owners made. Just because it’s in the Constitution doesn’t make it set in stone. THAT’S WHY THE CONSTITUTION HAS AMENDMENTS. Hey, remember that one time that it was legal to own other people, but then they amended the Constitution so that you couldn’t own people? That’s what I’m suggesting. With all the facts, an intelligent person can draw the conclusion that no matter how you slice it, access to guns is causing people to needlessly die. Is your constitutional right more important than the lives of hundreds and thousands of people? I think not.

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