By JULIA MAY
The Second Amendment of the Constitution protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, however this right, as with any, should not come at the expense of others’ lives. Gun violence not only affects Americans in the physical sense, but it can also wreak mental and emotional havoc, particularly on children, teens and young adults who have had to cope with the growing normality of shootings.
The Gun Violence Archive (GVA) defines a mass shooting as any incident where at least four people were shot. Gun violence-related deaths are almost entirely preventable, yet even after nightclubs, grocery stores and classrooms are facing the wrath of the epidemic, the government still has failed to enact meaningful gun control laws.
Gun violence is an epidemic that the United States is currently facing. According to data from the GVA, there have been 255 mass shootings in the US this year already. Statistics talk, and it’s time for the government to enforce stricter gun laws–and that starts with the Assault Weapons Ban bill.
The Assault Weapons Ban of 2019 is a bill that was recently introduced to the Senate and would greatly restrict access to semi-automatic assault style weapons that have the potential to do great harm when used in mass shootings. It would outlaw the sale or possession of those weapons (except for those grandfathered in) and would also ban high capacity magazines.
Of course, there is also a large amount of Americans who are against the bill. Many gun rights advocates and gun owners are vehemently against stricter gun laws as they fear it will impede their ability to practice the Second Amendment. In order for gun control to be most effective, guns shouldn’t be completely banned, which many gun rights advocates fear. Instead, stricter laws would allow guns to be better regulated.
In particular, universal background checks are imperative in stricter gun laws. As of today, most states do not currently require background checks when guns are purchased from a private individual at a gun show, which is a considerably common way people get their guns. This type of law would help to better prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands while not stripping away the rights of gun owners.
Another argument is that mental illness is to blame for the majority of gun violence and that the government needs to provide more resources to the mentally ill. While providing better resources and programs to help those with mental illnesses is beneficial and could help with gun violence, that is simply not enough.
According to Congress.gov, the official website for U.S. federal legislative information, 110 bills related to guns have been introduced to Congress since January. Yet, with gun politics at its current state, there has been little to no action on the bills. This is especially important to note as election season is rapidly approaching and the candidates that are voted into office will undoubtedly affect gun control laws in the future.
Young people particularly have been uniquely affected by gun violence the past several years through the lens of mainstream news and social media. Although many of us haven’t been directly affected by gun violence, we’ve all indirectly felt the effects of it through tightened security at schools and carefully planned out exits in movie theaters and stores. We are the new wave of voters, and it is our civic duty to vote in change to ensure a strong future for our country. Thoughts and prayers just aren’t enough anymore.