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The Battalion

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Gun control is all we have left

Gun+Control
Photo by via unsplash.com
Gun Control

There have been 156 mass shootings this year alone — and it’s only April. In 2020, there were 610. Most recently, three people were killed and three were injured in Kenosha, Wis., on April 18. This month alone has seen at least 24, one hitting home in Bryan on April 8. And by the looks of the data, we’re due any minute now for another. It’s a harsh statement that has somehow become our reality. 

No one seems to want to blame the lack of both gun restrictions and education for the thousands of avoidable deaths and injuries a year.

The U.S. has one of the worst gun violence incidents of any high-income country. It makes sense why out of 100,000 people in America, 12 die by a gun. To buy a gun at any large box store, like Walmart, it’s required to have a background check sent to the FBI. They look for things like criminal convictions, domestic violence and citizenship status. However, denials only occur less than one percent of the time

But then there are gun shows, which are honestly free-for-alls. The Texas government has no requirement that ‘private individuals or unlicensed vendors’ perform background checks before selling weapons. You can also buy and sell from friends without any sort of documentation or trouble. And on top of all of this, the federal government doesn’t require gun buyers and owners to have a license. 

All of this to say: no wonder we have a skyrocketing gun problem.

About 42 percent of Americans have at least one firearm in their home. This doesn’t account for who-knows-how-many unregistered guns floating around the country. With limited research available, it’s known that the moment a gun enters a home, the likelihood of it being accidentally shot increases rapidly. Not to mention the increase in domestic violence

The issue, which is often misconstructed, is that gun violence is never the gun but the enablers. 

The enabler is a couple of things. First, it’s the laws surrounding gun access. If you look in comparison to other countries, you’ll see the stark contrast between their laws and ours. For instance, New Zealand requires evaluating mental, criminal, domestic and medical records, obtaining character references, informing and interviewing a family member, passing proper gun storage inspection, attending a gun safety course and then waiting for approval. Canada requires proof that an individual is a member at a range or that they’re a gun collector. On top of that, there’s a required safety course with a written and practical exam, two references, required permit and registration and an extensive background check. 

Quite the difference from America where an 18-year-old can waltz into Ma and Pop’s gun store and buy an AK-47 with no questions asked. 

These countries and many others have these laws not because they’re trying to take away their citizens’ rights but so their citizens can live to exercise those rights. 

Out of the thousands of gun deaths, there hasn’t been a single recent bill passed in America to combat this issue. The Constitutional Carry bill about to hit the Texas Senate floor would allow Texans to conceal carry without a permit or training. Based on the data shown, it is an ignorant and deadly proposal. The argument is that the right to bear arms is our inalienable right, but so is our right to live a full life. The objective shouldn’t be to take away Americans’ guns but to instill a more thorough process to receiving a gun. 

The second type of enabler is the gun operator. One in four American gun owners has received proper training on how to use a gun. Twenty-three thousand suicides a year are carried about with a gun. About 500 people die from unintentional shootings every year. Americans are four times more likely to be injured unintentionally by a gun than any other high-income country. Indeed, the number one reason people decide to purchase a gun is for personal safety, but that goes out the window if you can’t properly fire it. More than 80 percent of a survey’s respondents reported they think gun safety training should be required. So, why aren’t they? Well, because it’s classified as gun control. 

Gun control has this nasty stigma attached to it that many understand to be “taking away guns,” which isn’t it at all. Safety training is not an infringement on our rights but an exaltation of them. The gun violence epidemic in our lap is something that can be changed and apprehended. A permit is required to drive a car, cook in a restaurant, operate a stinking elevator — all for safety purposes. 

In the past decade, hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives to guns. It’s incomprehensible that change hasn’t been made. The first step that needs to be made is legislation and then education. 

Kaelin Connor is a psychology junior and opinion writer for The Battalion.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this column included the sentence “The government has no requirement on registration or background checks when purchasing a gun at these shows.”

This has been corrected to say “The Texas government has no requirement that ‘private individuals or unlicensed vendors’ perform background checks before selling weapons.”

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