Opinion: Gun Violence Has Simple Solution

loose background checks, gun shows contribute to gun violence


Photo by Annie Bolin on Unsplash

With shelter-in-place orders across the nation deeming gun stores as essential businesses that can stay open throughout the coronavirus crisis, it has never been more clear how much the U.S. values its second amendment rights.

But there’s a problem here. We are valuing gun rights more than human lives.

School shootings have become the norm in our country, and that is not something we, as Americans, should want. Shootings all over the nation leave kids terrified to even attend school. At Sandy Hook Elementary School, a perpetrator killed 20 young children and seven faculty members in 2012. More recently, a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida killed a total of 17 people and injured an additional 17.

These shootings tend to have one thing in common: the use of a semi-automatic weapon. The 17 students shot to death in 2018 could still be alive today if we would have been more strict on not allowing semi-automatic rifles into our homes.

Assault weapons like the AR-15 and AK-47 do not belong anywhere in any household. A home is where families go to find safety and security, but if we depend on deadly weapons to keep us safe, we are just encouraging the use of them. By abolishing weapons like the AR-15 and AK-47, we can help prevent the frequent mass shootings that have become the norm in today’s society.

But doesn’t just stop there either. In addition to making these war-like weapons illegal, we need to strengthen federal laws regarding owning a firearm.

According to the Gun Control Act of 1968, federal laws require citizens to be at least 18-years-old to purchase small handheld guns, ammunition and rifles. To purchase other firearms such as shotguns, you have to be at least 21 years of age. Though some states have been able to override the system and create different laws. Maine, Arizona, Kansas, Wyoming, Alaska, Vermont and Missouri even allow the carrying of concealed handguns without a permit.

Additionally, I believe that one of the biggest problems contributing to gun violence in America is that we do not pay enough attention to who is using a firearm.

The Federal Firearms License is requiring background checks for everyone who has purchased a firearm through a licensed dealer, which is about 78 percent. However, it also states you do not need this background check if you purchase a firearm from online stores, gun shows or private sales. 

And that’s where the problem is. There needs to be a more strict process to purchasing a firearm. The process should include a thorough background check on the citizen who is purchasing the firearm, as well as some sort of legally-binding contract stating no one but the rightful owner of the gun would have access to it. With measures like this, we can reduce the majority of illegal gun activity.  

We also need to get rid of gun shows. Gun shows around the country are places to showcase the nation’s most powerful and dangerous guns. On average, 2,500 to 5,000 gun shows are held each year. To sell a gun at a gun show has little to no restrictions at all, and 25-50 percent of sellers are not licensed dealers.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 does require all licensed sellers to keep track of sales. However, there is a loophole for non-licensed dealers. Because they do not have a proper license to sell firearms, they are not required to track where the gun is going or who it is going to.

This is a major issue due to the fact that anyone can go into a gun show to purchase a firearm, and the firearm they bought may have been purchased from an unlicensed dealer. If we make gun shows illegal, then we can stop a portion of the flow of illegal guns getting sold, therefore stopping preventing any illegal activity that the person who purchased the gun may do. 

With these simple changes that can be made, we can cut down the number of deaths caused by gun violence and create a stronger, safer nation. So why don’t we?

Well, the answer is in the money.

The gun business is one of the most profitable industries in the nation. As of 2017, the industry averaged a profit of $13.3 billion. Furthermore, in 2017, the NRA spent $4.1 million lobbying money to Congress. 

There were 14,542 murders by gun violence in 2017, according to the CDC. Remember, that year is before the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting. It was before the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio this past fall that occurred in a single weekend.

Sure, the money is an impressive amount. But what are all the lost lives worth?