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Gun control is common sense

The+state+of+gun+control+in+the+United+States+is+terribly+lacking+and+in+need+of+urgent+reform.+Photo+credit%3A+Viviana+Cardozo+%26+Martin+Bilbao
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Gun control is common sense

The state of gun control in the United States is terribly lacking and in need of urgent reform. Photo credit: Viviana Cardozo & Martin Bilbao

The state of gun control in the United States is terribly lacking and in need of urgent reform. Photo credit: Viviana Cardozo & Martin Bilbao

The state of gun control in the United States is terribly lacking and in need of urgent reform. Photo credit: Viviana Cardozo & Martin Bilbao

The state of gun control in the United States is terribly lacking and in need of urgent reform. Photo credit: Viviana Cardozo & Martin Bilbao

By Hannah Elders

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The issue of guns is once again in the headlines. Seventeen bright and innocent people were murdered in yet another school shooting in February. This has drawn the same question from many Americans; why haven’t we done anything about this?

The Republican party has a tiresome habit of equating gun control to taking away the guns of all Americans and stripping them of their rights, however that is simply not the case. We need common sense gun control to regulate the sale and possession of these dangerous weapons.

A common counterargument to gun control is that criminals will always find a way to get their hands on guns, making any restrictions unnecessary. While this argument is basically an argument against law itself, the answer is also simple common sense. Criminals can find ways to get their hands on guns, but there is absolutely no harm in making it as hard as possible for them.

America is lacking something most developed countries have had for quite some time; basic gun safety laws. For instance, according to BBC news, Japan has one of the lowest gun crime rates in the world. Japan holds the importance of safety over convenience, which seems to be something America overlooks. If you want to buy a gun in Japan, it takes time, precision, and work. You have to sit through a class that lasts a full day, take an exam, and pass a shooting-range test. Pass; meaning you must get a 95 percent or above. You are then tested for drugs and mental health issues, and you as well as your family and even colleagues are thoroughly background-checked in order to make sure you aren’t tied with any dangerous groups.

One would assume all of this is completely necessary when trusting someone with a weapon that has the potential to kill people in an instant, however much of America seems to ignore common sense when it effects their convenience. For example, I am 19 years old. By law, I am not legally responsible enough to consume alcohol or rent a car, yet I am somehow considered responsible enough to own a weapon.

Federally licensed gun sellers are required to run background checks, however not all sellers are required to be licensed. Some of those unlicensed sellers sell at gun shows, according to PolitiFact, a project that regularly fact checks statements by those in public office. These are all frequently ignored issues that make it incredibly easy for the wrong people to get their hands on guns.

In America, people on the terrorist watch list can also legally buy a gun. According to a 2013 report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, being on the terrorist watch list it is not “in and of itself a disqualifying factor” for them to buy a gun. How does this make sense? The answer leads back to the NRA.

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Firearms sold at a local sporting goods store with a sign alerting the customer that they must be at least 18 years of age to buy, which is younger than the legal drinking and smoking age in California. Photo credit: Hannah Elders

The political influence of the NRA has been a detriment to progress on reducing gun violence. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, a non profit and non partisan group that researches lobbying and money involvement in elections, the NRA endowed the 54 senators who voted in 2015 against a measure prohibiting people on the government’s terrorist watch list from buying guns. These senators received $37 million in support.

The NRA has also influenced the decisions of other proposed common-sense gun measures. The Center for Responsive Politics also found that the NRA gave $27 million in direct and indirect support to 50 senators who voted against a bill to require universal background checks for firearms. Universal background checks are, once again, a necessary action of common sense. The reason these senators consistently vote against common sense leads back to one answer; they were paid to do it. This should be a concern for all Americans. We are a democracy, and yet the NRA seems to have more of a voice in safety laws than the American public does.

Recently the idea of arming teachers with weapons has been brought to the table by members of the NRA and the Republican party. There is an abundance of issues with this proposal. Who is going to pay for the weapons and their training? Will teachers get stronger background checks since they are responsible for both children and a weapon in the classroom? Who is to say that a kid won’t get their hands on a teacher’s gun? Why should we burden teachers with the responsibility of both educating and protecting? Why should schools basically turn into prisons just because the government doesn’t want to bother with basic safety laws?

Concerns regarding fear tactics and racism have also risen. Police officers that have committed police brutality commonly state that they “felt threatened” by those that they killed. Whose to say there aren’t any teachers that will claim to “feel threatened” in that same way by a student, leading to an unnecessary act of violence? These are all complicated and troublesome issues. I would argue that implementing basic safety measures is much less complicated, and has the potential to make much more positive change than arming teachers ever will.

Guns, whether we want to admit it or not, are the problem. If you need proof as to whether or not these safety laws work, ask countries such as Japan who have implemented gun laws, and decreased gun crime. They have tried to tell us for years, with statistics and facts to back them up, that these laws really do have an impact. I believe it’s about time we listen to them.

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