Let’s Talk About Guns

On Oct. 1, 2017, a mass shooting took place in Las Vegas, Nevada, where 58 people were killed and 546 were injured.

On June 12, 2016, a mass shooting took place in Orlando, Florida, where 49 were killed and 58 were wounded.

On April 16, 2007, a mass shooting took place at Virginia Technological University, where 33 people were killed and 17 were wounded.

On Dec. 14, 2012, a mass shooting took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where 28 were killed, including 20 children. Two were wounded.

And just last Sunday, Nov. 5, another mass shooting took place in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in a church. 26 people were killed and 20 were injured.

These are the top five worst mass shootings in United States history, two happening within the last month and a half. The list could be endless, as the United States has had hundreds of mass shootings -- more than 300 this year alone. All have a few things in common: all were committed by white men, all were blamed on mental health issues, and all were committed with some kind of assault rifle that the shooter shouldn’t have had.

We, as a society, have become very desensitized to mass shootings; the incidences above have unthinkable numbers of people dead and injured, and that just doesn’t resonate with us anymore. We see the news, see the numbers, think, Wow, that’s so terrible and sad. What kind of person would do that? We send thoughts and prayers, and that’s where it ends. There are no changes. The cycle repeats, and often - much more often than we perceive.

A lot of people still passionately defend the Second Amendment. Our own representatives in Congress are paid a combined millions by the NRA to adamantly oppose gun control. Even after so many people have died, people want their guns and claim it as their right, which suggests that they care more about owning a gun than people dying. It is long past time for a change. We have been shoved past the breaking point and it has become ridiculous.

There is a common argument that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. That if there aren’t readily available guns, then mentally ill people will find other ways to kill. That guns aren’t the problem. That guns protect us. At this point, none of these things make sense.

It is true that the gunman in Texas last weekend was brought down by a civilian with a concealed weapon - but that isn’t a win when 26 people needlessly died because someone else had a gun. If the gunman didn’t have a gun in the first place, then the other person wouldn’t have needed to use their gun to bring him down. If people didn’t have guns, they wouldn’t be able to shoot anyone. It is as simple as that. Crazy people who want to kill others could find another way to wreak havoc, but it is much, much less common. The reason so many mentally ill people kill is because it is extremely easy for them to. Guns are impersonal, simple to use, and easy to obtain -- which is a deadly combination.

Other countries don’t have mass shootings like we do here in the United States, and it’s because they don’t have guns like we do. It is plain false that taking away guns won’t decrease shootings; it does. When every other major country on Earth has stricter gun laws and have just a fraction of the homicides and mass shootings of what we do, then there isn’t a point in refuting it. It is a fact. In Scotland, after a gun enthusiast shot 16 first-graders and their teacher, similar to Sandy Hook, Britain banned handguns and it didn’t happen again. In 1997, Australia restricted gun ownership after a particularly large mass shooting and they haven’t had one since. Their gun-related homicides and suicides both dropped more than 60 percent. In other countries, it has proven true that decreasing guns decreases gun deaths.

It’s not just mass shootings and murders that give guns a bad rep. There are hundreds of cases of accidental gun deaths each year -- accidents that can be prevented. And the accidents are nothing on the suicides. Two-thirds of suicides are with guns, and there are twice as many suicidal gun deaths each year than homicides. Twice as many.

The most common demographic to commit suicide in the United States is white men, and they are the demographic that is most likely to use a gun to commit suicide. Men don’t attempt suicide more than women do, but they succeed more because they are more likely to use a gun. Most people who attempt to commit suicide and fail realize that it was a mistake and never attempt it again. If other forms of suicide are attempted, it is much more likely that someone will be able to save the person and help them, whereas gun deaths are final and absolute. In reality, this is an even bigger problem than homicides and mass shootings.

The Second Amendment was written at a very different time, when guns could only hold one bullet and took more effort to reload. Plus, it was written so citizens could protect themselves against the government in a rebellion and hold the right to keep state militias, which just isn’t relevant today. People mistake the intentions of the writers of the Bill of Rights. People hold onto their right to bear arms fiercely, but fail to recognize what it actually meant when it was written.

Gun control shouldn’t be debatable after everything that has happened and all the people that have needlessly died. Civilians don’t need assault rifles. There are always going to be people who want their guns, and gun control isn’t about taking away all guns. There are guns in a locked safe at my own house - my dad loves hunting, and has guns, but is very pro-gun control and is extremely opposed to the NRA. Gun control is about stricter policies about buying guns, more background checks, mental health evaluations, and taking away assault weapons other more deadly guns. It is not about taking away the guns you use for sport, or guns that you use with safety and knowledge. It is about saving lives and preventing horrific deaths.

When you hear about mass shootings and deaths in the news, you don’t think about it personally anymore because it’s so common, but, it could happen literally anywhere or anytime, including to you or somebody that you know. We need to enact stricter gun control before even more lives are lost. The most important issue is to preserve life.