People are the problem, but so are guns

Margaret Stansell

Writing is my passion and words are how I express myself, but in the wake of the tragedy in Florida this past week, I find myself searching for the right thing to say.

In the coming days and weeks, many will say the wrong things. People will argue over security measures and gun laws, call for laws and call for prayers, the debate will be heated, but I want to ask, will this time be different? Was this not the same atmosphere after Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs and Pulse?

Our nation is stuck in a cycle. A mass shooting happens, Republicans and Democrats argue, other news takes precedent and eventually the gun argument is set aside again until the next mass shooting. The only difference now is the frequency.

A uniquely American trait, according to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 31 mass shootings in which four or more people were shot, this year. In 45 days, there have been 31 mass shootings, only one broke national news – the school shooting in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14. The massacre in Florida is also the state’s second national headline mass shooting in less than two years.

The second deadliest American mass shooting, which occurred at Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016, had a death toll of 50. The deadliest American shooting in history was the Las Vegas massacre, which happened on Oct. 1 of last year with a death toll of 59 and over 400 injuries from gunfire.

I haven’t even mentioned shootings that happened before 2016, our nation has a problem.

Republicans will argue it’s not a gun problem, it’s people problem. They’re not entirely wrong, the evil human beings who commit these heinous crimes are problems. My disagreement comes when we claim guns are not also part of the problem.

Considering all mass shootings are carried out by people using guns, this argument should stand for itself. I don’t mean to suggest we should ban all guns, but it shouldn’t be as easy to purchase a weapon as we allow it.

A common argument I hear from conservatives when defending the right to bear arms is this, “If a person wants to shoot people, they will find a way to shoot people. If they want a gun they will get it illegally. Gun laws won’t matter.”

I have a big issue with this comment, it doesn’t make any sense. Of course, laws are broken and criminals do things illegally, but when in our nation’s history has that ever stopped us from making laws? We have driving laws, drug laws, assault, rape and murder laws. Do these laws mean that people never break them or that all citizens follow them?

Laws aren’t made so no one will ever break them, but rather to have legal standing to punish them when they do, and set an example for a community that this kind of behavior will bring repercussions. If we only made laws we knew everyone would follow, we wouldn’t have any.

Gun reform doesn’t have to mean repealing the Second Amendment of the constitution. My biggest concern with guns in this country is how easy it is for anyone to buy a gun, including assault rifles.

The process of adopting a cat is longer and more cumbersome than buying a gun. When adopting a cat people have background checks, extensive paperwork and have to agree to a home visit to make sure the cat is taken care of in proper conditions.

The process for buying a gun is walking into the store, picking one out and purchasing it as easily as a t-shirt. When it comes to weapons frequently used to kill, this is ridiculous.

Republicans are right, guns don’t kill people, people kill people. So, let’s do background checks. If people are the problem, we should screen, vet and check them before giving them a weapon. If the law reflected our problem with individuals who use guns to kill multiple people at once, it would require everyone who buys a gun to be mentally stable, have no felonies and agree to a follow up class on how to properly care for a gun.

Not all gun owners are killers, and many do own guns for the right reasons. But make no mistake, guns are deadly weapons. If the problem in the country is with the people who choose to kill others and not with guns specifically, perhaps we should not let them obtain deadly weapons with ease.

Allowing anyone who wishes to, to own a weapon used to murder, puts everyone at risk. As a nation, we need to decide which is more important, safety or giving guns away like it’s nothing, because that’s what we’ve done so far about these tragedies, nothing.

mps2pw@mail.umkc.edu

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