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The Events that Shape a Generation

in Gun Control/Political Issues by

Undeniably, aspects of life evolve with each generation that, in turn, forces our government to change as it adapts to the changing world. However, this change in the government typically takes time, as the affected generation must grow up and finish their educational career before they begin reshaping government policies. The Greatest Generation grew up during the Great Depression, Baby Boomers with the Vietnam War, Gen X with the removal of the Berlin Wall, and Millennials with 9/11.  The typical period of waiting for the government to adapt is not satisfying to today’s American teenagers—the generation of mass shootings. The future of our country is being killed in movie theaters, concerts, and classrooms; they are no longer waiting for these tragedies to fade away. They demand “Gun Reform,” but that, depending on your perspective, can vary drastically in meaning.

The most prominent demands include the raising of the age at which you can buy a rifle to at least 21, the addition of a waiting period, universal background checks, and closing of all gun show, hereditary, and boyfriend loopholes. These might appear extreme at first glance, but the generation(s) with the power to change the laws are unable to fully understand and process why they are demands. As a child born in December of 2001, I cannot possibly fathom what it was like to live during the Great Depression, to hear the news of JFK’s assassination, or to hear the news of 9/11. An adult, similarly, can not imagine growing up in a seemingly endless pattern of mass shootings. Until the current representatives have been traumatized by having active shooter drills in the middle of class, the current representatives do not have the right—nor experience— to claim these solutions unreasonable. Moreover, the Constitutional interpretation that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” means that any person can buy a weapon specifically designed to kill as many people as quickly possible at a gun show without even showing an ID is both than outdated and dangerous. Implementing a waiting period would decrease murders and suicides, as it forces a person to contemplate their decision, often preventing dangerous and rash decisions. Universal background checks will promote a safer society, keeping weapons away from convicted criminals and people with a history of mental illnesses. Lastly, raising the age from 18 prevents children from endangering themselves or the people around them. Personally, I believe the legal age to purchase a gun should be 25—when scientists say the brain is fully matured.

With generational changes, the government should strive to change at the pace of an evolving world. In some ways it’s been able to evolve successfully; however, the Second Amendment remains a very controversial topic, where the government has failed to implement the adaptations its citizens demand. Despite the founding fathers’ envisioning the Constitution as a document that would adapt with the country (Thomas Jefferson hoped it would be rewritten with every generation), the US finds itself hesitant and resistant to desperately needed gun reform that will save lives.

Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards

Shooting Down Anti-Gun Control Arguments

in Contemporary Politics/Gun Control/Political Issues by

After another tragic yet increasingly unsurprising school shooting in Parkland, FL, I felt compelled to write a few of my responses to common arguments against increased gun control. If you would like to continue the discussion, feel free to write a response in the comments or submit a response article into the Contact Us Page.

Pro Gun Argument #1: Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People.

This is technically true. Just like any inanimate object (such as a bomb or toxic gas), the gun is not acting as its own living entity. However, guns make it much easier for one person to kill numerous people, as seen by America’s frequent, tragic mass shootings. When looking at gun ownership percentage vs. gun deaths on a state-by-state and country-by-country level, there seems to be one irrefutable conclusion: more gun ownership in a place typically catalyzes more gun related deaths.

Pro Gun Argument #2: Gun Control Laws won’t prevent bad people from obtaining guns.

Laws serve as a way to disincentivize people from doing bad things. Heroin, for example, is illegal in the United States. However, people in America still do heroin. Thus, should we legalize heroin? Of course not! We do not structure our laws around how criminals will react to them. Although stricter gun control laws will not completely stop bad people from getting guns, we must not let the perfect get in the way of the good, especially when the stakes are so high. America’s children are counting on Congress to pass any legislation as an attempt to stop them from being massacred at school. After enduring 13 mass shootings, Australia implemented strict gun control laws. There has not been a mass shooting in Australia in over twenty years. Clearly, Gun Control can help in some capacity.

Pro Gun Argument #3: If more good citizens carried guns then we wouldn’t have to worry about mass shootings.

Once again, I would point to the well-established fact that more guns cause more gun related deaths. In the recent Vegas shooting, the shooted slaughtered 59 people at a concert from a building over 1000 feet away. Imagine if everyone in that crowd had been carrying a gun. In the chaos and madness, good people would have inevitably shot at each other, mistaking other people for the killer. This would have exacerbated the death count unimaginably. Or, perhaps some of the crowd would shoot at the building, potentially hitting innocent hotel residents. More guns would have been the very worst possible thing in that scenario — and it would have significantly complicated the jobs of the police officers.

Pro Gun Argument #4: The 2nd Amendment

The 2nd Amendment of the Constitution certainly states that individuals have the right to bear arms. Similarly, the Constitution also plainly states that slaves and those bound to service counted as “three-fifths of all other persons.” The Constitution is far from perfect, and glorifying its words as such actually betrays the intentions of the Founding Fathers. Our Founding Fathers, whom the NRA loves to cite as prime examples of gun advocates, frequently challenged the Constitution. In reference to the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton claimed that he would never expect “perfect work from imperfect man.” The Founding Fathers anticipated that America’s issues would evolve beyond those addressed in the Constitution. In fact, Thomas Jefferson proposed that the Constitution should expire and be rewritten by each generation to ensure each generation helped shape the government. If the Constitution was re-drafted today, stricter gun control would almost definitely be included in it — a recent poll found 97% of people support increased gun control measures.

The 2nd Amendment, moreover, is not a carte blanche for citizens to own whatever types of weapons they’d like. Just as citizens are not allowed to own fully automatic machine guns (in almost all cases) or nuclear weapons (in ALL cases), there must be clear restrictions on the types of weapons people should be allowed to own. There is a clear distinction between hunting weapons and assault (n. a physical attack; v. make a physical attack on) rifles. As the definition of ‘assault’ suggests, an assault rifle is not a defensive weapon. Seemingly, the most practical use for an assault weapon is, as the name suggests, an assault. The most memorable mass shootings of recent history share a common denominator: the AR-15. That was the gun that killed 17 students and faculty members in a span of three minutes last week at a school in Parkland, FL, That was the gun that mowed down innocent concert-goers at a Vegas music festival, killing 59 and injuring 100s. That was the gun that killed 20 first-graders and six teachers in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

Every single American child deserves to go to school without a fear of being gunned down during class. While I am certainly not suggesting that Congress bans all guns, Congress should be able to drastically limit the accessibility of assault weapons and guns in general. Hopefully, congressmen can give their votes to preventing gun violence so that they don’t have to give their thoughts and prayers.

Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards
Product of Errant Publishing Co.
https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/10/2/16399418/us-gun-violence-statistics-maps-charts
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/01/10/upshot/How-to-Prevent-Gun-Deaths-The-Views-of-Experts-and-the-Public.html?mcubz=0
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/02/15/australia-hasnt-had-fatal-mass-shooting-since-1996-heres-what-did/340345002/
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2018/02/14/ar-15-mass-shootings/339519002/
http://www.businessinsider.com/gun-control-poll-americans-support-assault-weapons-ban-after-florida-shooting-2018-2

The Last Fire Drill

in Gun Control by

“Sheesh. I just want this day to be over,” I muttered to myself while walking into my last period math class. The vectors on the board seemed to mock me as I found my seat. Five minutes into the lecture, a screeching noise emitted from the walls. A fire drill — my saving grace. Although I thought it was strange, considering we had a fire drill the day before, I didn’t ask questions. As my class walked outside, I couldn’t help but think that some seraphic being was watching over me. While my class meandered around, I noticed that this drill lasted much longer than usual. Eventually, my teacher discovered a glitch in the fire drill system causing the false alarm, and everyone went back inside. Be it a glitch or a real fire, I appreciated the unexpected break in my exhausting school day. Once I got back to my house, my false fire drill euphoria quickly faded when my phone buzzed with the news headline — My School Is Getting Shot Up.

While school shootings have somehow become a normality in today’s society, this one piqued my interest. As I delved deeper and deeper into the story, the narrative terrified me more and more.

The news reported that the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, went back to the school he was expelled from with an AR-15 in a soft black case.  He “[walked] purposefully” toward a particular building, gun drawn, and pulled the fire alarm. There were only 10 minutes left of the school day — why would a fire drill occur? This thought, coupled with the fact that there had already been another false alarm previously that day, caused confused students to scurry out of their classrooms, right into the sight of Cruz’s reticle. Seventeen lives were lost. From now on, students will fear fire drills.  They will feel unsafe during assemblies. Celebratory public gatherings will now be considered easy targets for a killer.

Later that day, an article read that an eight-year-old girl asked her parents for new shoes because her light up Sketchers would give her location away in a shooting.  An eight-year-old? We shouldn’t live in a world where we fear that our shoes, often the only form of self-expression in a school with a uniform, will be the difference between life and death.

Why are AR-15 rifles legal in the first place? No matter their recreational appeal, they are not worth the lives of children. It’s appalling that a nineteen-year-old can’t buy a beer, can’t buy a handgun, but can buy a semi-automatic rifle. Nikolas Cruz legally bought his rifle.

While many people may squabble over what to do about controlling guns, all I ask is that we DO something. Ban semi-automatic rifles, make background checks more thorough, make obtaining a gun more challenging: I don’t care what the fix is, all I care about is that we TRY to find a solution.  

This isn’t a partisan issue — it’s a human issue. We need to strive to make real change. While this may seem like a naive, idealistic pipe dream, each of us can take small steps to enact change. It is our duty, not only as Americans, but as human beings, to try and save lives.  

 

Jack Trent

 

https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/18/us/parkland-florida-school-shooting-accounts/index.html
http://www.businessinsider.com/us-gun-laws-teenagers-ar-15-assault-rifle-handgun-2018-2
http://www.businessinsider.com/florida-shooter-nikolas-cruz-bought-ar-15-legally-2018-2

 

Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards
Product of Errant Publishing Co.

Band-Aids Don’t Fix Bullet Holes, but Legislation Might

in Gun Control/Political Issues by

In 2016, America suffered more than 38,000 gun-related deaths.  Facing similar issues (although not nearly as severe), other countries have introduced strict gun control policies in an attempt to limit these catastrophic events, but our second-amendment-clad government remains obstinately unchanged, despite 89% of voters’ being in support of some form of stricter gun control.  Our current policies are not only lenient, but grotesquely ill-enforced.  Investigators with the Government Accountability Office had a 100% success rate buying guns with simple fake IDs, meaning even the most dangerous citizens who are on the current denial list could easily obtain deadly weapons.  Furthermore, the argument that increased civilian gun ownership protects from gun violence is counterintuitive and completely contradictory to the evidence. Within two years of Australia’s 1996 gun control policies, gun violence deaths decreased 40% (1996-1998), and another 50% since then (1998-2012).

Gun Violence in Australia vs America

Japan, which has strict gun policies, only had 6 gun-related deaths in 2013, compared to 33,599 in America.*  This has also lessened need for lethal police force: only 6 total shots were fired by the entire Japanese police force in 2015, while America suffered 1093 police force killings the following year. The facts are simple: the USA, who leads the world in gun ownership with 101 guns for every 100 citizens (the next closest is Serbia at a much lower 58.1), also leads the world in gun related deaths every year.  We as a nation have suffered more casualties from local gun violence since 1996 than all warfare in our history.  This should not be a highly charged, partisan issue — it’s a matter of human decency.  This is a clear-cut, pressing opportunity to save the lives of tens of thousands of Americans with a simple governmental act.  To pass it up would be detestably irresponsible.

Americans Killed by Guns and Americans Killed by Warfare
*To purchase a shotgun or air rifle (handguns are outright prohibited), a citizen has to complete a written test and shooting range test with at least 95% accuracy.  This process has to be repeated every three years to renew their gun license.  Your background is also thoroughly vetted for mental health instability, extremist group relations, or a history of violence. 

 

Product of Errant Publishing Co.
Graphic Design (Gun Control Flag) by Jackson Edwards
http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp
http://news.gallup.com/poll/1645/guns.aspx
http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-38365729
https://psmag.com/social-justice/how-many-people-are-killed-by-police-in-the-united-states
http://time.com/5011599/gun-deaths-rate-america-cdc-data/
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/05/us-gun-violence-charts-data
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