Background Checks for All

Manhattan, New York
United States

This past Wednesday, February 27th, the efforts of those who have been fighting for stricter gun control laws finally came to fruition. It is now required that anyone who wants to buy a gun, whether it be in person, online or at a gun show, must receive a background check. This is one of two gun laws expected to be voted on in the House this week, a huge turnaround from the previous Republican (and NRA) dominated House of Representatives.

        Although countless Americans have been fighting for these measures for years, this past year has shown a significant increase in activism. Ever since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last Valentine’s Day, a new wave of students, parents and teachers have taken a stand in their communities to combat gun violence. Horrific events like these typically elicit the usual response: shock from the communities, thoughts and prayers from those in power and inaction from the government. Yet this time, things were different. I cannot say if it was the age of those students directly affected, or simply a country becoming tired of burying their innocent children, but this time we turned around and said “Enough.” I felt it the day of the shooting, watching the news when people like Emma Gonzalez should have been mourning, but instead, she pleaded to her government to do more. I felt it on March 14th of last year, when nationwide, students walked out of their classrooms to honor the innumerable lives lost by senseless gun violence. I felt it at the March for Our Lives in D.C., where 200,000 people gathered in nonviolent protest to show that we were nowhere near done. And I feel it today, over one year later, because progress is still being made and young people finally have a voice that is being listened to.

        Some other laws that have been passed this year include raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm in California and Washington state from 18 to 21, the Firearms Restraining Order in Illinois which allows a weapon to be removed  from someone deemed dangerous, and Oregon now prevents domestic abusers from purchasing a firearm, whether or not they are married. On a federal level, bump stocks will be banned this year, which is the device that turns a semi-automatic weapon into a heightened killing machine, firing faster rounds. All of these laws have already been put in place or are expected to come in early 2019, which I believe is an extremely hopeful indicator of how this year will finally be different. These are the first steps towards a safer country, and activists nationwide can finally rest knowing their decades of work are being put to good use.