Gun reform needed in wake of violence

Kat Pauli, bear facts viewpoint editor

The lives lost in the Newtown shooting cannot be regained, but lessons can be learned so that future deaths in these types of shootings could be prevented. Restrictions on guns are necessary for a safer America, including those who should be allowed to have a gun and what kind of guns they should be allowed to have.  

Over the past year, there have been many tragedies that can be used to argue for more gun control, including the shooting in Aurora, Colorado that killed twelve and injured fifty-eight others; the shooting in Oakland, California, that killed seven people and injured eighteen; and, sadly, several other shootings around the nation, killing 151 people in 2012.  

            The future safety of Americans depends on Congress’ actions now, and their ability to put the people first. If Congress neglects to act, or acts weakly, mass shootings will continue to occur at the current rate, and more lives will be lost unnecessarily. Among Congress’ plans are more restrictions on the importation of weapons and more planning and training for schools and first responders in the event of an attack.

Obama’s plan includes measures to help restrict the buying and distribution of guns by creating laws that heavily punish “straw buyers,” or those who buy guns with the intent of giving them to other people. Congress has also pushed for the reinstatement of the ban on assault weapons that was in place between 1994 and 2004.

The need for an assault weapon in modern day America is senseless, as there are many forms of weaponry that a person could use to defend him/herself that are not capable of killing masses of people in seconds. Assault weapons have their name for a reason, and there is no feasible need for such weapons today as their only purpose is for attacking others, which is exactly what the government is trying to avoid.

            Another proposed restriction that is essential to the security of Americans is the requirement for gun buyers to pass a criminal background check. This new measure includes private sellers, who are currently exempt. Many of these bills will be vetoed and reformed into ineffectiveness by the time they pass through Congress, due to the influence of the National Rifle Association and other groups, rendering the reform useless. Despite this influence, politicians need to stop seeing dollar signs and start thinking of American safety. 

            Six of the twelve deadliest shootings in American history have happened in the last seven years, and there have been than 62 mass shootings in the U.S. in the past three decades. Of the 142 guns possessed by the perpetrators of the 2012 shootings, more than three quarters were obtained legally, according to the MotherJones website. Congress needs to act now to prevent the continuation of these high death rates.

            While many argue that all citizens have the right to bear arms, people must think of the ramifications of giving guns to unstable or even dangerous people. The right to bear arms and the right to murder are not the same thing and many Americans need to realize that being safe is more important than being right. There is an immense need for background checks to prevent criminals from owning firearms and potentially from killing others with these firearms.

            “When it comes to background checks let’s be honest,” Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA said in a recent Congressional meeting. “Background checks will never be ‘universal,’ because criminals will never submit to them.”

            What LaPierre fails to understand is that if background checks are required nationwide to get guns, and criminals are not submitting themselves to these background checks, that means they are not trying to buy guns, which is the point of the background checks.  

            There are many issues surrounding the gun control issue that need to be addressed, and Congress members need to be steadfast and move forward with these movements. Gun control laws must be implemented in order to create a safer America.

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