America Must Overhaul Gun Laws: An Op/Ed

Patrick Kissel, Reporter

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Two mass shootings shook Missouri and Kansas over the weekend, catapulting the states to the front pages of national news sights. In the two shootings, one at a bar in Kansas City, Kansas, and another at a party in an open field near downtown St. Louis, four people were killed and nine were injured by two, or three gunmen in less than 24 hours. These numbers do not include all the others across the United States who were also killed, or injured by a firearm over that span.

These shootings highlight the epidemic endangering this country: gun violence. There have been over 334 mass shootings since the beginning of 2019, an average of over one per day. In 2017, 39,773 people died from gun related injuries, with over sixty percent of those deaths being suicides, according to Pew Research. This is the highest number of gun related deaths the group has ever recorded since they began keeping records in 1968.

In order to curtail the plague of gun related deaths, the obvious solution is to limit gun access. Countries with fewer guns have fewer homicides, and fewer suicides despite sometimes having a higher crime rate overall than in the United States. By severely limiting access to certain types of firearms, the ability of those committing heinous acts of violence to kill is greatly reduced. If stabbed, it is far less likely someone will die then if they are shot.

Also, by limiting access to firearms, suicide rates will drop dramatically. When a person commits suicide with a firearm, the potential to survive the inflicted injury is greatly reduced because of the damage a bullet is capable of doing. Since half of all suicides involved a firearm in the United States in 2017, making restrictions on the ability of Americans to access these weapons would help greatly reduce the suicide rate.

This now begs the question, what types of restrictions. First and foremost, banning semi-automatic weapons. These weapons are designed for war⁠—for killing other humans⁠— and are not designed for hunting, or recreational shooting. Therefore, banning these weapons from civilian possession would serve the common good by limiting how many people a shooter is able to harm with a firearm. Another solution is to limit magazine capacity. Similar to semi-automatic weapons bans, this would also serve to limit the amount of bullet a shooter can fire, limiting the potential for injury.

Overhauling the United States’ federal background check system to force the states to provide criminal records for the purpose of a criminal background check is also necessary. By making background checks harder to pass, the risk of a person who will use a gun for harm is greatly reduced.

Other means for preventing future gun violence would be a mandatory waiting period of multiple days before purchasing a gun, a repeal of concealed carry laws, and requiring in-depth firearms training courses executed by local police departments before being permitted to purchase a firearm.

These laws are the bare minimum that can be done in order to prevent the plague of firearms deaths in the United States. There must be comprehensive amending of the nation’s firearms laws, because Americans are dying at too high a rate. There is a crisis, and the crisis will not be solved by doing nothing. Therefore, Congress must act, and commit to an overhaul of our gun laws, including some of the aforestated policies to prevent more Americans dying at the epidemic rate these deaths are currently occurring at.