Gun violence has been a plague on the American society, it has come to a point where ignoring it feels irresponsible. This article was started several months ago, however, I did not finish it because I could not fully choose a side, but that is no longer the case. Guns are often glorified, in a culture of cowboy mentality, that their detrimental impact on the people of our country has been brushed aside. This cannot continue. The lives lost to this scourge are those of our neighbors; and encouraging the continued peril of our loved one's is not American spirit nor right, it is barbaric.
I grew up with an element of gun awareness, my father is an experienced hunter, and I was taught gun safety from a young age. However, generations of hunting and military experience in my family, did not prevent someone with these tools and experience form getting shot in a gun related accident. Lives are not saved by gun safety awareness, lives are lost by bullets.
According to Deutsche Welle; 88 out of 100 people in the United States own guns. And, under the Gun Control Act of 1968, anyone over the age of 18 can have a gun, though there are age discrepancies based on gun type and state law. So, at any given time, due to the right to bear arms in the United States, you can be surrounded by dozens of guns while out doing mundane day to day tasks. This matter gets more complicated by the broad stroke of this constitutional right. Because it speaks to all American people, those caring firearms could be teachers, civilians, the mentally ill, and those charged with domestic violence. Those who may not buy a firearm include: those charged with unlawful possession in the last year, those charged with restraining orders, those who have served prison sentences longer than one year, those involuntarily committed to a mental institution, as well as other inconsequential legal infractions.
Under the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 before selling a gun, a licensed distributor must do a background check on the person aiming to buy a gun. The check is done through the FBI criminal database check, and possibly also done in conjunction with a state-run agency. This includes filling out a form (the ATF 4473), after this, a decision is made in ten minutes as to whether the person is approved, denied, or must undergo a more inclusive check. Ten minutes and basically anyone who has not been in jail for over a year can buy a deadly weapon. This person may not even need a permit to buy a gun; only 12 states require permits to purchase handguns, and only three of these require permits for rifles and shotguns. The laws over carrying and concealing handguns vary by state, however shotguns and rifles do not require a permit to carry.
However, there is the very well known 'gun show loophole' that undermines any integrity that the Brady law has. Not all guns are purchased from a licensed distributor. It is legal for private individuals to sell guns without a permit in several different, and common, circumstances. It is in these cases the seller, because they are not licensed dealers, they are not required to do a background check on the person buying their gun. This simple loophole makes it possible for virtually any American to buy a rifle or shot gun, and do with it what they will.
There are places in the United States where carrying a rifle seems necessary, however these places, like rural Montana for example, replicate the state that America was in during the time that the second amendment was made. In a setting where there is no person within ten miles of you and you must protect your land and livestock from intrusion, a gun seems like a responsible tool. However, an elderly woman carrying a handgun for her protection, when she may not even be able to stand on her own, or a man who has been charged with domestic violence carrying a shotgun, do not seem like responsible owners of firearms.
A common argument in support of the second amendment is civilian safety. There is a large spread concern that without guns, the American people will be unable to protect themselves from a rouge government, and those around them who possess guns and are with ill intent. It is with this mindset that people deem gun control mute as it would be impossible for the federal government to take guns away from all 88% of the population that have them, and because of this, those without access would be deemed unprotected. But it is difficult to ignore the irony of this argument; "guns are dangerous, so we need them to protect ourselves." This does not seem like a well-researched argument to me, or any person with connections to the devastation of gun violence.
Gun violence has recently been shattering the face of America, it is affecting all Americans. This virus has spread to schools, law enforcement, concert halls, night clubs, places of worship, restaurants, into the streets, and has left countless people wounded physically and emotionally. In order for an incident to be considered a mass shooting, more than four random people must die. According to CNN, since 2000, 355 people have been killed in mass shootings. This number includes men, women, pregnant women, and children; and as the definition of a mass shooting dictates, this group of people is random. It includes families of the shooters, all races, all religions and backgrounds. The common thread among these 355 people is that they were all victims of gun violence, in a society that is not efficiently regulating the use of deadly weapons.
It has become clear to countless Americans, that at this time there is no one in the white house overlooking our wellbeing as a society, nor a nation. So, in the next two to six years, it seems the protection of our people, of our country, rests with each of us. In the face of each of these travesties, our community has split into factions, many violent, and ignorant people have stepped forward. There are neo nazis, stepping into the spotlight because the violent and hateful rants echoing from the oval office are giving them a stage. But they are not who we must pay attention to.
They are outnumbered by the masses of individuals who step forward in times of adversity in show of support for those who have fallen by violence. It is you, the awoken, the outspoken, and the brave who we must look to in these times of senseless loss. According to the BBC the #hashtag generation is moving in the right direction, the need to protect gun rights is falling and a trend in controlling gun ownership is rising. We are starting to honor the scars left by bullets and slowly we are learning from the mistake of corruption and violence. But, we can do better. We must use the tools we have at our disposal to spread more awareness, and not be afraid to learn and teach more about the mistakes of our violent past, and how not to repeat these atrociousness. Our history proves, time and time again, that violence and death do not serve us, but it is acceptance and openness form which we grow as a nation. Together, we can close the chapter of our history and challenge ourselves as a country to move forward wiser and safer.
The right to bear Arms does not make us patriots, it is our ability to bring together people from all different backgrounds and make something great that makes us patriots.