There is a list in the US. Can you guess what it’s of? Here’s some hints. Every 4 hours another new 5 people join the list. in 2016 alone 38,000 people joined. Any guesses? One more clue: there is 1,516,863 people on this mystery list. Still no idea? This list is the number of people who were shot and killed since 1968.
Why I Care
The debate of gun control has always been near to my heart. When I’m not doing homework I often play basketball. One of the players on my team witnessed this father shot and killed. It was very hard to watch him go through this tragedy knowing it could have been prevented. I began looking into the debate of gun control and ultimately traced the origins to the two arguably most famous documents in US history: the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. This lead me to a series of question: What happens when the 2 most famous documents in the United states conflict? We consider the constitution as the law of the land, but what about the declaration of independence? Shouldn’t we pay more attention to the whole reason we declared to be our own country in the first place? When did the truths that we hold “self-evident” of our “certain unalienable Rights” to life become less important than the second amendment. When did the right to bear arms outweigh the right to live life?
Gun violence has been in issue for a long time before the 1960’s but thats when there was a takeoff in murders. There were 8,740 murders in 1961. During the next decade the number of murders increased at a steady rate and the number of murders more than doubled in 1971(17,780) . In 1981 the numbers of murders nearly triples(22,520) what they were 20 years before. (FBI Crime statistics).
Most of these murders were committed by guns. Even though the common theme was the method of killing people seemed to find ways to blame everything else. For example in the 1971 NYT Article entitled “Homicide Rate Rises 30% in First Part of 1971 here.”, Author Richard S., Talks about how the rise in murders “it’s part of the same thing that’s creating alcoholism and drug addiction.” Later Richard S. says that “people are buying guns illegally to protect themselves from the rising murder rate. Then getting angry about something else completely and using the guns”
Skipping forward to present day, the debate over gun control boiled into front page news in 2012 the first major incident of the year was the mass shooting at the opening of the dark knight on July 20th in Aurora CO. A shooter entered the movie theater with an AR-15 rifle. After killing 12 and injuring more than 50 more, he fled to his car and was there arrested. This sparked a national outrage and a fierce debate over gun control. This debate lasted through August when Michael Brown was killed by a Ferguson police officer. The debate of gun control was put on a back burner while the debate of Black Lives Matter was in the forefront of everyone’s thoughts. Leaving gun control unchecked was a mistake. 4 months later on December 12th, Adam Lanza killed his mother. Next he entered Sandy Hook elementary. There he used a Bushmaster XM15-E2S, a powerful assault rifle, to kill 26 children and adults and finally himself. This tragic event brought gun control back to the foreground of political discussion. People called for federal ban on these assault style weapons. As well as background checks and other precautionary measures. Between then and now, no federal laws were passed and only 4 new states passed background check laws.(DeGrazia)w
In 2016 Nevada passed a law requiring private citizens who were selling guns to perform a the same criminal and physiatric background as licensed gun sellers. This law was slated to go into effect in 2017 but days before it did Attorney General Sessions called the law unenforceable. This stalled it’s implementation. Then on October 1st Stephen Paddock opened fire from his 32nd floor suite. He fired more than 1,100 rounds, killing 58 and injuring more than 850 more. Some of the guns found inside Mandalay Bay rooms where Paddock stayed (pictured below):
- Colt M4 Carbine AR-15 .223/5.56 with a bump stock, vertical fore grip and 100 round magazine. Front sight only.
- Noveske N4 AR-15 .223/5.56 with a bump stock, vertical fore grip and 40 round magazine. EOTech optic.
- LWRC M61C AR-15 .223/5.56 with a bump stock, vertical fore grip and 100 round magazine. No sights or optics.
- Christensen Arms CA-15 AR-15 .223 Wylde with a bump stock, vertical fore grip and 100 round magazine. No sights or optics.
- POF USA P-15 P AR-15 .223/5.56 with a bump stock, vertical fore grip and 100 round magazine. No sights or optics.
- Colt Competition AR-15 .223/5.56 with a bump stock, vertical fore grip and 100 round magazine. No sights or optics.
- LWRC M61C AR-15 .223/5.56 with a bump stock, vertical fore grip and 100 round magazine. EOTech optic.
- FNH FN15 AR-15 .223/5.56 with a bump stock, vertical fore grip and 100 round magazine. EOTech optic.
- POF USA P15 AR-15 .223/5.56 with a bump stock, vertical fore grip and 100 round magazine. EOTech optic.
- Colt M4 Carbine AR-15 .223/5.56 with a bump stock, vertical fore grip and 100 round magazine.
- Daniel Defense M4A1 AR-15 .223/5.56 with a bump stock, vertical fore grip and 100 round magazine. EOTech optic.
- LMT Def. 2000 AR-15 .223/5.56 with a bump stock, vertical fore grip and 100 round magazine. No sights or optics.
- FNH FN15 AR-15 .223/5.56 with a bump stock, vertical fore grip and 100 round magazine. No sights or optics.
There is a few common threads of all of these weapons. First they are all AR-15s. An AR-15 is not a gun but a style of gun. This style is lightweight and semi-automatic. The second common thread is a bump stock. My immediate family does not own any guns so naturally I didn’t know what a bump stock was. A bump stock is an attachment you can legally buy and attached to the back of a rifle. What is does is it allows you to hold down the trigger and fire bullets continuously. Here is a video that demonstrates how a bump stock works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zb4BoRhQm2s. The last common thread is 100 round magazines. There is no situation where you need to fire 100 bullets in a row unless you are in an intense gunfight or you are trying to hurt a large number of people. Both situations that shouldn’t exist.
There is no one stop fix for gun violence. My idea 3 pronged: First listen to president trump. Yes, really. Joking aside, on friday, March 23rd, Trump tweeted, “Obama Administration legalized bump stocks. BAD IDEA. As I promised. today the Department of Justice will issue a rule banning BUMP STOCKS with a mandated comment period. We will BAN all devices that turn legal weapons into illegal machine guns”(twitter). Aside from the self promotion and dig at the last administration Trump has the right idea. There is no need to turn legal weapons into illegal ones. Secondly, Talk! Talk to everyone you can. Remember just because you heard something doesn’t mean it’s right but also remember that different people are raised differently. Some people go their entire lives without seeing a gun in real life. Others own when they are 16. So just because your set of beliefs don’t match up with someone else’s does not mean you have to start yelling or arguing. Instead of trying to explain you stand point, listen and try and understand theirs. Try and ease the stigma. When I have conversations of gun violence I often hear people say that gun violence mostly is not mass shootings and homicides. This is shown in the graph below.
Most deaths are not being inflicted on others. But the difference between a suicide and a homicide is a suicide the person who is being killed gets to decide to pull the trigger. A homicide or mass shooting you don’t get that luxury. There is no choice in being killed. Because of this lack of choice it is like trying to compare sex and rape. We would never compare sex and rape because of the lack of consent so we shouldn’t try and compare murder and suicide. The next common argument I hear is “gun control is a violation of the second amendment’s right to bear arms”. This is taking a law written more than 200 years ago when the rounds per minute of a rifle was 3. We also added the ability to change the law if we saw fit at a later time. So why is it fair to say that one part of this 200 year old document is valid but the part where you can call for change isn’t? If and when the conversation turns to school shooting I always hear the idea of “arming teachers”. My mom is a teacher. She has been teaching for 17 years and been alive for 46. In those 46 years she has never touched a gun. In her 17 years of teaching she has had 3 students get injuries around her all three times there was a lot of blood, all three times she fainted. So the idea of putting a gun in her hand terrifies me equal as much as the minuscule possibility that someone would enter our campus with the intention to harm. Lastly understand that the law is the last thing to change. This doesn’t mean stop trying to change the law. I’m just asking everyone to try and make the world a place where guns don’t matter. People always say ” in a perfect world” , well what if instead of fighting guns we tried to unite and make that perfect world. What would happen, guns or no guns if we turned our attention to the underlying causes of these killings. What if instead of fighting guns we fought guns killing people.
I welcome anyone who wants to start a conversation about guns or has some constructive feedback to fill out this google form:
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DeGrazia, David. “The Case for Moderate Gun Control.” Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, vol. 24, no. 1, 2014, pp. 1-25, ProQuest, https://search.proquest.com/docview/1523893593?accountid=39972.
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