For many years, our nation’s leaders refused to talk about gun control and focused on their own reelection. Unfortunately, it was not until the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that both sides of the aisle said something needed to be done. Now, there are many possible approaches that can be taken to such a multifaceted issue. The range includes everything from curbing video game violence to banning certain types of weapons. No matter what side of the debate you may fall on, I beg you to talk about your opinion. Better yet, talk about it with someone you disagree with, because the only thing that is going to make any sort of difference is honest, open and diverse conversation. Here is my take to get you all started.
Many people will throw around the statistics that violent crime has decreased in the last two decades, and that mass shootings are not on the rise, but rather almost entirely random from year to to year, and they are correct. With that said, no one will deny that 2012 was a rough year for America and shooting sprees. The above statistics are great for arguing in circles, but I will be so bold to say that they are not what this debate is about. As mentioned above, it is incredibly unfortunate that it took a such a deadly shooting at an elementary school to get the nation talking, but when it comes down to it, this conversation is not really about violent crime or what law could have specifically changed a particular incident. “Gun control,” if you want to call it that, is about doing everything we can as a nation to ensure that innocent lives are not put at risk
Here are the statistics that matter to me: an average of 85 people died every day in 2010 to gunshot injuries, for a grand total of over 31,000 gun deaths. Of these, over 19,000 were suicides. Let that sink in for a moment.
While doing research for this, I was shocked at how high both figures are. Now by no means am I going to say that if we ban guns we won’t have suicides or violent deaths or anything of the like. Personally, I do support an assault weapons ban, but frankly, there are better ways to help cut down these fatalities. I think we as a nation need to focus on firearm education, and having a gun safety conversation with kids.
My idea: mandatory firearms education course before the purchase of a gun. Currently, 11 states plus the District of Columbia already have some sort of mandatory waiting period for firearms purchase, so why not put that time to good use? Proper use and storage of guns would cut down significantly on gun injuries and deaths with out a doubt. In fact, 606 of the gun deaths in 2010 were from unintentional firearms injuries, so there is a half-way decent start already. By ensuring that everyone who purchases a gun knows simple things, like keeping the safety on until they intend to fire and how important it is to lock a gun up lives will be saved.
This cannot be stressed enough when children are present. In fact, the NRA already has similar education programs set up for members. Whether it be a kid unknowingly playing with a loaded gun, a teenager tragically choosing to end their life with their parent’s fire arm or the worst case scenario of an underage student taking a gun that does not belong to them to school, the simple act of locking up personal guns with the safety on could change the situation entirely. Who wouldn’t take a couple hours in a classroom to save a life?