Understanding the relation between policy and the gun violence epidemic is necessary in order to understand why proper gun control is crucial in eliminating preventable tragedies from occurring. There were over 15 500 gun-related deaths in 2017 alone, 25% of those were children and adolescents (GVA, 2018). Mass shootings are no longer shocking in our current social climate, and that lack of shock is just as disheartening as the massacre itself. Gun-related violence and deaths are a direct result of the accessibility of firearms created by gun control policy or lack thereof. A common argument used when defending gun laws if often hiding behind the second amendment, hunting and protection.
However, when you look at the weapons used in mass shootings, those are not valid arguments. The National Rifle Association began as a hunting organization, and when the constitution was written, the conversation about guns was different because guns were different. Over 200 years later, these things need to be revisited. Guns can now fire multiple rounds, are quieter, and more compact, just a few ways they differ from the guns that existed when the Constitution was written.
The weapons being used in these attacks are not legal to use for hunting, so why are they allowed on the streets of America? (Brown, 2017) What other purpose do assault rifles have other than to murder people? Why do people have access to weapons that allow you to fire hundreds of rounds that can travel six football field lengths? Not only that but there are laws that allow people to modify these weapons to make them even more lethal. Gun law reform is not about making guns obsolete but rather creating laws that prevent dangerous people from purchasing them, as well as from purchasing large quantities. A large factor contributing to this issue of poor record keeping, there are several instances when the perpetrators of mass shootings should not have been able to acquire the firearms they used but because of information not being forwarded to the necessary parties they were able to complete their purchases. Devin Patrick Kelley purchased four guns from licensed dealers in Texas and Colorado during the four years prior to his attack. Kelley was discharged from the Air Force on bad conduct after choking his then-wife and fracturing her son’s skull. Despite what military rule dictates, the Air Force failed to share this with the FBI and Kelley passed his background checks (Sisak, 2017).
Kelley killed 26 people and injured 20 more on November 5th, 2017 in a Texas church (Buchanan, Keller, Oppel, Victor, 2017). Omar Mateen purchased an AR-15-style rifle and a handgun from a licensed dealer in Florida a week before his attack. In 2013 and 2014 he was investigated by the FBI about possible ties to terrorist groups but was not put on the terrorist watchlist, even if he had Congress would not have prevented him from purchasing a gun. Mateen also had a security license that allowed him to be armed while on duty (Sisak, 2017).
Mateen killed 49 people and injured 53 more on June 12th, 2016 in an Orlando nightclub (Buchanan, Keller, Oppel, Victor, 2017). 9 out of 10 Americans believe in expanding background checks but with Republicans controlling Congress and the presidency, change seems unlikely (Blake, 2017). Gun control is the most polarizing item between the two United States political parties and instead of solving the epidemic it has been reduced to campaign tool. Any progress or changes that President Obama’s administration made are lost with the current administration.
President Obama made his feelings about guns clear in January, 2016: We do have to feel a sense of urgency about it. In Dr. King’s words, we need to feel the “fierce urgency of now.” Because people are dying. And the constant excuses for inaction no longer do, no longer suffice. That’s why we’re here today.
Not to debate the last mass shooting, but to do something to try to prevent the next one. To prove that the vast majority of Americans, even if our voices aren’t always the loudest or most extreme, care enough about a little boy like Daniel to come together and take common-sense steps to save lives and protect more of our children. Now, I want to be absolutely clear at the start … I believe in the Second Amendment.
… It guarantees a right to bear arms … But I also believe that we can find ways to reduce gun violence consistent with the Second Amendment. Each time this comes up, we are fed the excuse that common-sense reforms like background checks might not have stopped the last massacre, … so why bother trying. I reject that thinking.
We know we can’t stop every act of violence, every act of evil in the world. But maybe we could try to stop one act of evil, one act of violence. Gun policy reform has been an uphill battle but not because of what needs to be changed but rather who is in control of making that change. Every time a politician makes a decision to hinder effective gun law reform they are making a statement about the lack of value they place on human life because every gun-related death is preventable (Handler, 2017). With organizations like the NRA funneling money into Republicans’ pockets, gun-policy reform has no chance. Donald Trump received 30.3 million dollars from the NRA during his campaign for president (Fielding, 2017), and Republicans received 5 900 000 dollars in the 2016 election cycle (Fisher, Frostenson, Mihalik, 2017).
Trump even publicly promised, “You came through for me, and I am going to come through for you,”, to the NRA at their 2017 Leadership Forum (Sherfinski, 2017). This is a president that is serving based on the money in his pocket rather than the lives of his constituents. In February, 2017, President Trump signed a bill that makes it legal for people with severe mental illness to purchase guns and that June, the NRA fought to allow individuals on the no-fly list to purchase guns (Mahita, 2017). These are the same individuals that share their thoughts and prayers after every mass shooting yet do not use their power to make the necessary change to prevent further tragedies.