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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Gun violence a national epidemic

There’s a popular saying: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” That may be so, but if a person wants to kill other people, giving them a gun sure makes it a hell of a lot easier. Mass shooting incidents in the past few years have skyrocketed. Recent studies show that the number of gun-related deaths in the U.S. in the last 26 years exceeds the number of U.S. military deaths since 1776. 

Let me rephrase that. More Americans have died from guns since after Ronald Reagan was president in 1989 than all of the American soldiers in all wars since we became a country. There have been almost 300 mass shootings just this year. We have become numb to this. We seem to accept the shootings as just a tragedy that occurs—like illness or natural disasters. Wake up America, there is nothing natural about gun deaths. 

Some Americans are so held up on the idea that owning a gun is one of their most unalienable rights that they are blatantly ignoring the hundreds of mass shootings each year, the victims of which have lost their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness when someone decided to take their second amendment rights too far. 

A few weeks ago at our fellow Arizona school, a Northern Arizona University student shot four other students after an argument, killing one and injuring the other three. While guns are not allowed on campus, they are allowed to be kept in cars parked on campus. Why is this necessary? Why do students and teachers and non-law enforcement need their guns so close to them—at a school? This tragedy may not have even occurred if the policy had been different.

Just a week before the NAU shooting, a shooter in Oregon killed nine and injured nine at Umpqua Community College before turning the gun on himself. President Obama made a speech addressing the shooting shortly thereafter, stating, “What’s become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose any kind of common-sense gun legislation. Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out: We need more guns, they’ll argue. Fewer gun safety laws.” 

How is it that after a shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School killed 20 young children, so many still fought against change? How is it that after the shootings in Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, Charleston, Newton, and the list goes on for pages, people still oppose stricter gun laws? How many more have to die before they realize that we can, in fact, do something about it? 

“When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer,” President Obama argued in his speech, “When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seatbelt laws because we know it saves lives. So the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations, doesn’t make sense.”

I am not pushing for the complete eradication of privately owned firearms, but the regulations need to be stronger. It has been shown that states that have stricter gun policies have fewer deaths. Isn’t that amazing? Somehow they have been able to let people own guns and have reduced the fatalities that could follow. 

Measures such as universal background checks, banning assault weapons, regulating sales by gun dealers, keeping people from buying guns in bulk and limiting known criminals and public offenders from obtaining firearms really goes a long way into ensuring those with guns are responsible. In addition, having laws that prohibit concealed weapons without a permit and limit the public areas in which guns can be carried can protect us from this violence. 

Many mass shootings and gun-related homicides are committed with legally acquired firearms. So, yes, guns do not kill people, people kill people, but we’re giving those people the guns and the opportunities to do it. 

Follow Apoorva Bhaskara on Twitter.

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