We are only four months into 2021, and there have already been over 130 mass shootings in the United States. Mass casualties are not a new phenomenon in the U.S., but in recent years, this issue has only gotten worse. The subject of gun violence has become a partisan issue in U.S. politics, which has stopped gun control legislation from being passed. The recent mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, both occurring within a week of each other, have reopened the discussion on the regulation of guns.
The issue of guns in the United States is a problem that stems from American feelings of freedom. Compared to other countries in the world, the United States owns 120.5 guns per 100 residents, while the country with the second most guns owns 52.8 per 100 residents. Guns are not well-regulated in America because of people who view gun control as an infringement on the Second Amendment right to bear arms. In the second amendment, the key phrase that is often forgotten is, “a well-regulated militia.” The militia, at the moment, is anything but well-regulated. With 19,223 people in 2020 dead at the hands of guns it is not well-regulated. When a record-breaking number of people are dying because of unregulated guns, it is almost required that the government intervene. Additionally, when the Second Amendment was written, machine guns and automatic weapons did not exist, so the threat of guns was not as rampant. It has been over 200 years since the Second Amendment was written, and it is critically important that we as a country change with the times.
After the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, legislation to ban semiautomatic weapons was struck down in the Senate. Gun control in the U.S. basically only includes the most basic of background checks, and according to the BBC, the only people who cannot possess guns are, “fugitives, people deemed a danger to society and patients involuntarily committed to mental institutions are among those who may not purchase firearms,” but this fact does not include the family members of those who cannot purchase guns. For example, Adam Lanza used his mother’s guns in the Sandy Hook shooting. Background checks are not sufficient gun control measures, and it does not protect the people of the United States compared to most other developed countries.
Australia, for example, moved to restrict and reform gun ownership after the 1996 shooting in Tasmania, which killed 35 people. The gun laws in Australia require citizens to present a demonstrated need for gun ownership, and “self defense” is not permitted as one of the reasons for needing a gun. Once you have demonstrated that you need a gun, you must undergo a gun safety course and meet storage requirements. In the U.S. after the Pulse Nightclub shooting, which killed 49 people, no comparable action was taken. Additionally, after 61 people were killed in Las Vegas in 2017, nothing changed once again. The United States should have followed the example of Australia after the first mass shooting occurred.
“Thoughts and Prayers,” is an empty phrase that has been repeated by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for years, but there has never been a real change. President Biden has made a promise to reform gun laws in the U.S., but the Senate is far too divided to act on legislation that could save lives. A change is long overdue regarding guns in the United States. Owning semi-automatic or automatic weapons is not at all intrinsic to your freedom, and that kind of weapon is not meant for self-defense.