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Viewpoint: America’s Gun Problem

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theadvocates.org

Noah Finco, Managing Editor

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America, we’ve got a problem. A big one. The reason it’s a big problem is not just because of the innocent lives taken or the ensuing arguments between politicians and the media. We have a gun problem and it’s time to fix it. 

On Sunday, Oct. 1, fifty-nine people were killed with over 500 injured as a gunman fired into the crowd from a thirty-second floor suite at the Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest Festival. This event marked the United States’ deadliest mass shooting, it is a harrowing reminder of our most persistent problem and how we continue to do little to prevent it. 

You’ve heard the numbers time and time again. We have the most guns, the most homicides by firearms, and the most relaxed gun laws. You’ve also heard several times about our Constitutional Rights to possess firearms, the city of Chicago’s rampant gun violence despite strict gun laws and arguments for personal protection 

No matter your interpretations of laws or personal beliefs, you should recognize that there is a problem and that it’s an American problem. Our gun problem is rooted in our long standing problems with political polarization. Any time legislation is introduced to add even the weakest gun control measure, it is met by stern opposition claiming that the government is trying to take away the guns.  

The greatest offender of this politicization, the National Rifle Association (NRA), has extensively lobbied against any sort of legislation. In fact, they lobbied for legislation that prevents the Center for Disease Control (CDC) from even studying gun violence out of fear of legislation.  

In addition, a common gun control opponent will argue that Chicago has the strictest gun laws in the country but their gun violence continues to rise. Well it turns out that thanks to NRA lobbying once again, the Supreme Court ruled Chicago’s City Ordinance banning handguns as unconstitutional in 2010.  

According to the New York Times, the assailant responsible for the recent Las Vegas massacre had stockpiled twenty-two guns and 10,000 rounds of ammunition into his Mandalay Bay Resort hotel room. He outfitted two of the guns with a bump stock which makes the rifle fire automatically using its recoil.  

In his home he had an additional nineteen guns and more rounds of ammunition and even target explosives. These numbers should at least raise an eyebrow. All of these were purchased legally at two stores in Nevada, with clean background checks. Unfortunately, per the New York Times, the problem is that all of his guns were rifles, and in Nevada there is only an alert system in place for excessive handgun purchases.  

In the U.S you end up on the No-Fly-List for exhibiting terrorist behavior and even as little as a questionable tweet. But, you can purchase tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition, thirty-one guns and buy large amounts of ammonium nitrate, an ingredient used to make explosives, and still be able to purchase the thirty-second gun the next day.  

So, there’s an obvious problem here, and what’s the solution? Here are my proposals as an avid hunter and target shooter. I propose that in order to purchase and use a gun, you must obtain a license following the proper test, like a driver’s license. The U.S. should establish an alert system for excessive purchasing behavior similar to that of the Las Vegas shooter. They should also ban weapons with features for the purposes of increasing kill count such as high capacity magazines, bump stocks, and ammo belts/drums. 

New York has instilled a similar assault weapon ban to the one I’ve described above in the 2013 New York SAFE Act and the percentage of violent crimes with a firearm fell from 16 percent in 2013 to 13.5 percent in 2016. Also, despite the stricter gun laws, the total harvest for deer and hunting license purchases have been unaffected. Therefore, the rules are not inhibiting or restricting hunters. 

At this point these suggestions are a far-off fantasy. For starters, groups like the NRA are accountable for their selfish and illogical ideology preventing sensible safe-gun legislation. They should allow the CDC to research gun violence and above all, reinvest in mental healthcare.   

If we don’t make a drastic change soon, these mass shootings we’re far too accustomed to will only increase in frequency if not lethality. I am quite tired of seeing news reports saturated with death counts, ambulances, and images of mentally unwell assailants in possession of guns.  

We have a problem America, and it is time we do something about it.  

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Viewpoint: America’s Gun Problem