As stated in the documentary American Creed, by Tegan Griffith, “...their right to protest is the fabric of my uniform.” Griffith was referring to the citizen’s right to protest, and she said that while she did not necessarily agree with what they were protesting about, she would defend their right to do so. Protesting is one of the most American things one can do, to stand up and say enough, and hold your ground. Protesting can come in so many different forms ranging from writing your opinions or going out and marching. I believe that anything can make a difference so long as it has the right audience to provide the catalyst. This is why I hope this essay about my opinion on gun control can make a difference on this site. This problem cannot be ignored anymore, now is the time for change.
5901 Pine Island Rd, Parkland Florida. The address of the eighteenth mass shooting in 2018, the deadliest incident in the new year so far. Say what you will about what a mass shooting i5s classified as, and list how many people have to die for a gun incident to be labeled as a “mass shooting”. This will not change the fact that innocent people are dying at a terrifyingly constant rate. It is clear that we have a problem in the United States, and have done absolutely nothing to try and solve it. Since the mass shooting in Sandy Hook “100 gun control bills have since been introduced on Capitol Hill. All have failed” (Nilsen 1). After so many shootings one would think that at least one piece of legislation would have been passed. The fact that we have allowed these atrocities to keep happening with no sort of consensus to stop them is baffling, and quite frankly, disturbing. Are we to believe that there is nothing that we can do to prevent these incidents from happening? I believe there are many steps that can be taken, and should have already been taken, to prevent these monstrous events from taking place, such as a complete ban on assault weapons being sold in the United States, much stronger background checks and related regulations, and finally, a stronger focus on mental health.
Contrary to the fact that absolutely no gun control policies have made their way through Congress, plenty of studies have been published showing that the American public has reached a consensus. One of which shows that “89% of respondents are in favor of preventing mentally ill people from purchasing guns, along with 84% of respondents being in favor of required background checks for private and gun show sales” (Public Opinion on Gun Rights vs Gun Control 2000–2017). These regulations are quite reasonable, and most people clearly agree on them, as the data shows. shown by the data. Why should people with mental health issues be allowed to own weapons capable of killing hordes of people? Conservatives claim that we do not have a gun issue, but instead we have a mental health issue. After all, guns don’t kill people, people kill people, right? Despite them shoving the blame onto mental health, our beloved president’s proposed budget “would slash spending for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration by $665 million” (Romo 1). While gun control is obviously a very decisive issue, there are agreed upon steps that would make it much harder for just anyone, especially those with mental health issues, to get access to a weapon.
In most states, so long as one has a clean criminal record, they are able to go out and buy a semi automatic weapon, no questions asked. Not only this, but they can avoid a background check and a permit by buying the weapons at gun shows. This is how the Las Vegas shooter was able to obtain so many weapons, including the one he used to commit the massacre. He was able to obtain over 33 weapons in an 11 month period, all perfectly legally. Along with this he used a “bump stock”, which is an accessory that can fit with most guns, allowing a semi automatic weapon to fire like a fully automatic one. These are perfectly legal to buy, and cost about $300. These are things that we continue to let hurt our loved ones, yet we do nothing to ban them. We as civilians, do not need weapons of these caliber, or anything that would allow someone to fire something like a fully automatic gun without even having to buy the actual weapon. It is absolutely astounding that nothing has been done to stop the use of these weapons and accessories.
Republicans desperately try to deflect the blame of gun violence onto the fact that many of the shooters have struggled with mental illness. They make it out to seem as if the guns used to massacre innocent people are not to blame. However they say this while accepting million dollar donations from the NRA, using it for their own political agendas. Now if you would like to say that we have an issue with how we view mental health in this country, and that we need to do more to take care of it, that’s a perfectly legitimate claim to make. However Republicans make this argument while supporting Trump’s new budget, which will cut millions to mental health services. The whole argument proves to be extremely contradictory, nothing new to Conservatives. Gun right advocates also believe that more guns will equal less violence, as more people will be able to stop a potential threat, however this has been disproved many times. Alaska, which has the loosest gun laws of any other state also has the highest percentage of gun related violence. Countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom have extremely strict gun laws, and have seen a dramatic decrease in gun violence. Australia has not had a mass shooting since 1996. It passed these laws after a gunman killed 35 people with a semi automatic weapon. This shows that gun control can work, we just need to give it a chance.
This paper isn’t just like another essay that one would write in a history class. This is a paper about a crisis that calls for action. The time for looking on and complacency is long over. No matter how small, I hope this paper can serve to help create change. We can be heard, we just need to scream louder until those in Congress hear nothing but our voices. People are dying, and will continue to die in vain until something is done. We have proof that these ideas can work, yet we choose to ignore them. We are allowing disturbed people to hurt more of our friends and family. So as long as we work together, we can build a country that is safer for not only ourselves, but other generations as well, which I think is something all of us want.
"Public Opinion on Gun Rights vs Gun Control, 2000--2017." Gale Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Gale, 2017. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, https://libdatabase.newpaltz.edu/login?url=http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/SSLYTJ474972859/OVIC?u=newpaltz&xid=7d05cd0. Accessed 23 Feb. 2018.
Nilsen, Ella. “Here's what Congress might actually do on gun control.” Vox, Vox, 21 Feb. 2018, www.vox.com/platform/amp/policy-and-politics/2018/2/20/17027738/gun-control-bills-congress-parkland-florida-marjory-stoneman-douglas-shooting.
Romo, Vanessa. “Trump Calls For Mental Health Action After Shooting; His Budget Would Cut Programs.” NPR, NPR, 15 Feb. 2018, www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/02/15/586095437/trump-calls-for-mental-health-action-after-shooting-his-budget-would-cut-program.