Gun Control

We must take action to stop gun violence before another tragedy happens

By: Anthony Carver – 2021 Summer Intern

Parkland, Columbine, Sandy Hook, Red Lake. Marysville, Umpqua, Oikos, Santa Monica, Santa Fe, Marjory Jones Douglas, Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois, West Nickel. These are all 11 of the deadliest school shootings that have occurred, most less than 10 years ago.

Since 2008, there have been over 288 school shootings, a steep incline from years prior and a huge contrast from other countries with much stricter gun laws. Besides school shootings, guns are increasingly becoming much more accessible, and with that comes a lot of danger and harm to the public.

A recent law enacted in Texas is an example of this, where starting Sept. 1 , citizens are allowed to carry pistols without permits. Adding onto this, many of Texas’s laws represent this issue of gun control as they are very loose and impractical. Some examples of these laws are:

  • Allowing concealed guns on school property in a vehicle
  • Prohibiting property lease agreements to restrict residents or their guests on their weapons
  • Only four hours of total training to get a license.

With all these things, it’s fair to say guns are out of control and need stricter regulation.

The fact is gun violence has increased over the past few years as restrictions on guns loosened. According to the Gun Violence Archive, since 2014, deaths with guns have increased by the thousands as well as injuries related to gun violence. Deaths in children/teens have also increased by the hundreds as well as mass shootings. It’s interesting to note many irresponsible gun laws, like the ones in Texas, were passed before an influx in gun crimes occurred.

For example, the training for a gun license was reduced from 10 to 4 hours in 2013, and in 2014 and the years following gun violence increased by several thousand. This shows a significant relationship between loose gun laws and the crimes that result from them. Another example is a bill signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbot when he expanded permissions for carrying concealed weapons and barred cities from gun/ammunition sales limits.

A year later, statistics show gun deaths increased by 4000. That shows another direct parallel between looser gun laws and gun crimes rising.

In addition, according to the CDC, many states such as Missouri who have permit-less carry laws see much more gun crimes/violence than states like New York who have strict regulations on guns. This shows how looser laws directly tie into gun violence and harm to the overall population.

Even those this parallel is very clear and backed up with federal data, government officials continue to not pass any pro-gun control bills which result in more hurt by these violent actions. This is shown by the Senate striking down both the assault bans weapons of 2013 which was a direct result of the Sandy Hook shooting just a year before.

The bill was supposed to help regulate guns and make them safer for residents, as well as broadening gun background checks, but it was struck down by the Senate, and as like said earlier gun crime increased in the next few years. And while some bills have been passed, it’s not enough yet to reduce crime and gun violence. Unfortunately, this striking down of gun laws, loose gun restrictions, and inconsistency of gun policy in the United States is a recipe for more violence.

Another major factor in gun violence is mass shootings. These have been on an uprise since 2008 and threaten to increase even further. Mass shootings have involved schools, churches, nail salons, concerts, bus stops, trailer parks, offices, health care clinics, grocery stores, spas, and more. Background checks and stronger gun laws may have prevented some of these tragedies. To help stop mass shooting, two steps should be taken: gun purchases should be documented a database to keep track of them, and people who purchase firearms, even from private parties, should pass stringent criminal background checks before they can carry a weapon.

The Second Amendment justifies this “right to carry,” but it has gone way beyond “right” and is abetting domestic terrorism. People like Dylan Roof, who killed nine people in a South Carolina church, shouldn’t be able to purchase guns. They should be stopped.

We need to support organizations like Everytown for Gun Violence to help stop such tragedies in our communities.

Anthony Carver wrote this opinion piece as a summer intern for the World Affairs Council of Harrisburg and the PA Media Group. It was published here.