America and Its Gun Problem


Ever since September 6th, 1949 when Howard Unruh walked through a neighborhood in New Jersey and fatally shot 13 people, mass shootings have become very common in the United States. According to Nurith Aizenman from NPR, compared to Syria, a country torn apart by a brutal war, the U.S. contributes to more gun deaths per 100,000 people. Guns have become such a large part of our culture that many Americans have a hard time letting go of these deadly weapons.

Many Americans look back to the founding of the U.S. and more specifically the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, which was included in the Bill of Rights. But in 2018, more than 200 hundred years after the Bill of Rights was written it, we as Americans are still clinging to the Second Amendment as justification for the gun problem that we face. The Amendment was written in an extremely vague way, which is up for interpretation to this day. When the amendment was written guns could only do so much, they were muskets which could only fire three rounds per minute. Now with the advancement of technology some guns can fire 45 rounds per minute.

Not only have guns changed a lot over the last 200 years but so have the problems that face the country. We no longer have to worry about protecting ourselves the way we did in 1791. We now have a police force, something that did not exist in 1791. So why are so many Americans relying on the Second Amendment? The simple fact is, we are now living in a country where it is easier to buy a gun than it is to buy lottery tickets, as illustrated on an article by Eoin Blackwell in the Huffington Post, and mass shootings have become so normal to Americans that we are desensitized to them.

There have been more than 90 mass shootings in the U.S. since 1982. Out of the 10 largest mass shootings in the U.S. since 1991, five of them have occurred in the last three years. Unfortunately, these mass shooting have become so unpredictable that virtually nowhere is safe. Places of sanctuary have now lost that title. Churches, synagogues, concerts, and schools are no longer safe. Churches and synagogues are holy places where believers would go to practice in peace. Concerts were for lovers of music to have a good time, and schools were for children to learn in. We shouldn’t be living in a country where children are afraid to go school. You would think that after these countless examples of violence from firearms, more logical gun laws would be in place.

For some, it is hard to see how and why the number of gun related deaths has increased over time. Just when asking my parents about how things were when they were in school, there is a juristic difference. Neither of them ever had to do lockdown drills. Even in neighborhoods with high violence rates, the concept of lockdown drills was unknown. Locust Valley happens to be exponentially safer, yet our school has to partake in lockdown drills.

What I think America needs is more responsible gun laws that will keep Americans safe. More restrictions should be put into place so that guns don’t fall into the hands of a person with malicious intent. Time and time again we see examples of places which have tight gun regulations live without gun violence. Growing up in Singapore, a country where only the police were allowed guns, showed me how safe a country can be. There are no mass shootings there at all. So why do some Americans think that more guns is the solution when there are places in this world that have figured it out by limiting gun use?

The times have changed for the worse, and still some people are not recognizing the newer dangers. Some believe that arming teachers at school would make schools safer. That argument is easily invalidated when we look to the real life examples of what happens when gun owners use their guns to protect themselves and others from a shooting. On November 22, 2018, a man at a mall in Alabama was killed by police because he was using his gun to protect shoppers at the mall. When police arrived on the scene, they assumed that he was the gunman and shot him, causing yet another avoidable death.

Mass shootings aren’t the only gun related issues that face America, for example in Chicago there have been more than 2,840 shootings this year alone, according to the Chicago Tribune. The threat of being shot is not just limited to instances of mass shootings, but is expanded to single shootings.

The National Rifle Association have been campaigning against all forms of gun control, and they have a large budget to influence Congress members on gun policies. As stated by BBC News, they spend around 3 million dollars annually to influence gun policy. To many, it feels like the fight to safer gun laws is useless when politicians and lawmakers are being payed to keep these deadly weapons easy to obtain.

What can Americans who are for gun safety do? We can march, we can rally, but most importantly we can make our voices heard. We can elect representatives who will fight for gun safety. We can call out the corrupted politicians who accept money from NRA. But most importantly, we can’t give up. We can’t let the gun violence that we experience in America continue for a second longer.

Here’s a helpful website that illustrates how gun deaths affected Americans in 2013: