Face Off: It’s time to change gun laws

How many more times are we going to see the headline “Deadliest Mass Shooting in U.S. History” in our lifetimes?

We wake up to tweets, news coverage, on-scene videos and pictures with the words ‘Pray for *insert city name*’ on social media way too often regarding preventable mass shootings.

There needs to be legistlative action taken soon to regulate U.S. gun laws.

Since 1995, there have been 20 mass firearm incidents that were named “deadliest U.S. mass shooting,” according to CNN. Fatalities range from eight to a chilling 59 innocent people lost in the recent Las Vegas massacre.

But this isn’t about numbers — it is about the lives that have been taken from us too soon. It is about how we go through life every day while we are at the mall, the movies, concerts, school or nightclubs, with a constant reminder in the back of our heads that everything could change at any second.

We are on constant alert, and something needs to be done.

Can we permanently prevent deaths by guns? No, but we can do something to control the amount of mass shootings this country faces.

The latest data from the Small Arms Survey, a Geneva-based research initiative that tracks guns, show that there were 2.7 gun homicides per every 100,000 people between the years 2012 and 2015.

A 2015 study from the Washington Post shows that there are 88 guns per 100 people in America. Switzerland is right behind the U.S. with approximately 45 guns per 100 people.

The numbers are significantly different in comparison to other developed countries, and the math is simple. More guns equals more gun deaths, and America is the leader in both.

Survey data from the 2002 American Journal of Public Health, analyze the relationship between gun availability and homicide rates over a ten-year period. It was found that states with higher levels of household gun ownership overall had more homicides and gun violence.

Twelve of the 50 states do not require a permit to carry concealed weapons for lawful purposes. Almost all of the country allows weapons in restaurants. The only U.S. territories that have a complete ban of firearms in restaurants are New York City, Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico.

Does this make us feel safe knowing that the majority of America can have concealed weapons in public places?

New Jersey is rated No. 3 with the strictest gun laws from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. N.J. Republican gubernatorial candidate Kim Guadagno says that she would definitely enforce gun laws in the state but would not add anything to them. Democratic candidate Phil Murphy says he supports the bill that was vetoed by Governer Chris Christie banning .50-caliber weapons, reducing the size of gun magazines and demanding guns that are only authorized to be fired by the owners.

America’s easy gun access seems to lead to more gun violence and death, and this is not just in recent news.

In the 1999 book, “Crime is Not the Problem,” authors Franklin Zimring and Gordon Hawkins delved into the conventional knowledge that the United States had a terrible crime problem. What they found, instead, was that this wasn’t actually the case. Rates of lethal violence in the nation are much higher and violence is not a crime problem.

Through studies from Tewksbury Lab, it was determined that countries with more guns have more gun deaths. Again, our country wins by a long shot.

Federal law for purchasing and acquiring firearms is frequently changing. A background check through filling out a federal form is required when purchasing from a federally licensed dealer, but according to Governing Magazine, most states do not require background checks for purchasing firearms at gun shows through private individuals. This is known as the “gun show loophole.” These exceptions to the law could be part of the problem in this nation.

The Las Vegas Police Department confirmed that most recent shooter Stephen Paddock hid 12 firearms in his hotel room, which were fitted with bump fire-stocks, allowing them to imitate the firing speed of a fully automatic weapon. They fire with an increased speed of 40 to 50 rounds per minute to 400 to 800 rounds per minute.

Bump-fire stocks get around the automatic weapons’ ban while actually simulating automatic fire because they do not fully alter the firearm to shoot automatically, which makes them legal under federal law.

This being said, the government should announce such intentions to ban these weapons from the country. Activating this ban will not alter our U.S. gun rights.

There needs to be more control over the amount of guns available to the public. Yes, firearms are used for recreational activities and protection, but would we need such extensive protection if there was more control over who obtains these weapons?

More security and control of who is able to handle firearms could be a solution to the homicide issue in the U.S. How many more innocent lives will be taken from us? Where could this happen again? There should be no answers to these questions. There needs to be action taken to resolve gun violence.

This editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News and was written by the opinion editor, Hayley Fahey.

Printed in the 10/11/17 issue. 

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