An epidemic more brutal than COVID-19

Jack Bond, Opinion Editor, is a senior English major from Marion

Cleveland, Ohio, Jan. 13: 1 injured, 4 killed. Goshen, California, Jan. 16: 6 killed. Monterey Park, California, Jan. 21: 9 injured, 12 killed. Not even a month into 2023, and dozens of victims have already lost their lives to mass shootings in the United States.

At St. Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri, a triage waiting room holds a basket full of gun locks sitting next to pamphlets about proper gun storage and safety. Along with many other children’s hospitals, this initiative aims to raise awareness about gun violence, particularly towards children.

Of course, the U.S. mass shooting epidemic is no secret. In 2019, the U.S. was second only to Brazil in deaths by gun violence (37,038 and 49,436 respectively). However, it was first in mass shootings by a large margin with a whopping 101 between 1998 and 2019. Russia followed second at 21 and France sat at third with eight.

Why are these numbers so ridiculously high? The long answer is a complex combination of mental health access, gun culture and gun laws. The short answer, and the only one I have space on this page to address: gun laws.

Gun laws in the U.S. are less strict than most other countries. Combine this with the patriotic pride of the second amendment, and you’ve got the country with the most civilians who own a gun, owning a staggering 46% of the world’s civilian owned guns.

Some laws that the U.S. already has in place are quite effective, if not essential. Laws like the age restriction, background check and prohibition of selling to certain groups of people are much needed. Despite this, it is still incredibly easy for the wrong people to legally get their hands on a firearm.

The absolute biggest problem, in my opinion, is the lack of firearm safety training. Why is there no training requirement for what is essentially an instant-death stick? A life can easily be ended with one little mistake, and the fact that there’s no training required to prevent that is abhorrent neglect by lawmakers.

On top of this, there are no bans against semi-automatic assault weapons, military-style weapons or large magazines. In what world does the average desk-job citizen need an assault rifle or large magazine weapon? 

Even hunters don’t need military-style weapons. A simple hunting rifle does the job.

U.S. gun laws are a joke. The ease with which someone can get their hands on a lethal weapon is disgusting. We should be following the example of countries that don’t have a mass shooting epidemic.

Countries like Canada and Australia. Both countries ban the purchase of assault rifles and require firearm safety training for citizens to purchase a weapon. Further, Australia requires applicants to demonstrate a genuine need for the gun they apply for. Israel does this as well, and even has a higher age requirement for its citizens than the U.S. 

You would think that events like Columbine or Sandy Hook or Route 91 would tighten the restrictions on guns, but no. Americans love their second amendment. What unimaginable death toll will it take to get congress to protect its citizens?

Categories: Opinion

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