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Reform gun law for public safety

Gun reform in the United States is a contentious issue, but it should be an issue that unites the American people. It is an outrage that our government refuses to acknowledge the gravity of these occurrences. As of Nov. 8 2018, there were 307 shootings in America over the course of 311 days. Mass shootings in the United States are comparable to the amount of mass shootings in Yemen, a country that is in the midst of a civil war. The fact that many representatives choose to ignore the health epidemic of gun violence is disgusting.  

There is some confusion about gun reform initiatives in this country. The purpose of gun reform is not to ban guns.  I often face backlash from more conservative peers and family members that gun reform infringes on their rights and liberty. Although owning a gun is a right listed under the Second Amendment, it does not give a free pass on any form of consistent regulations. In the preamble to the Constitution it states that we as the American people have the right to “domestic tranquility” and “general welfare.” As gun violence poses a threat to this, we must provide consistent laws across states in order to guarantee this tranquility and welfare — for people to live freely, they should not have to be afraid that they will be shot in a public space. 

Often, the argument is made that criminals will find a way to get access to guns and will commit atrocities no matter what. The argument for gun reform is not that it will stop all horrors and tragedies; rather, it is that it will greatly reduce them. More than 80 percent of guns used in mass shootings were obtained legally. This means that the majority of mass shootings occur when the perpetrator gained access to the gun through legal means. Furthermore, the higher risk to purchase illegal weapons will increase weapon prices substantially, making it far less likely for a potential shooter to purchase a gun. 

The most frustrating aspect of the issue of mass shootings is that there is little to no consistency between state laws about gun ownership. Certain state laws make it extremely easy for someone dangerous to purchase a gun. We need to alter them. 

There needs to be a completed universal database of those who are banned from buying firearms, as well as a banning of private gun shows. Magazines that hold over 10 rounds should not be permitted to be owned privately, and magazines that hold over 10 rounds must remain in gun ranges or shooting or hunting clubs. We need to adopt some of Australia’s laws as well, e.g., laws which require that you:

1. Join and regularly attend a hunting or shooting club, or document that you’re a collector.

2. Complete a course on firearm safety and operation and pass a written test and practical assessment.

3. Pass a review that considers criminal history, domestic violence, restraining orders and arrest history.

4. Apply for a permit to acquire a specific type of weapon and wait at least 28 days.

5. Buy the specific type of gun you received a permit for. 

These laws are no-brainers. Australia enacted these laws following a 1996 mass shooting, and the rates of homicides, suicides and mass shootings have decreased dramatically. Of course, there is no simple solution to gun reform, in the same way that there are so many different forms of gun violence that they cannot be resolved through one tactic. However, this does not mean that we should not try to initiate change. People often say after mass shootings “now is not the time, now is the time for grieving.” When is the time? How many more lives will be lost to something that could have been prevented? It is never going to be the right time. Reform must be done immediately; otherwise, these tragedies will never end.

Cassidy Ktsanes, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at CKtsanes19@wooster.edu.

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