Stop avoiding gun control conversations


By Matt Silich

On Aug. 26, Alison Parker, 24, and Adam Ward, 27, were shot and killed during a live interview for the WDBJ-TV news station in Roanoke, Virginia.

The shooting was partially captured on air. Minutes after the shooting occurred Wednesday morning, the gunman posted two horrifying videos to Twitter, taken while committing the homicide.

“Next week, it isn’t going to be a story anymore, and everybody’s gonna forget it,” said Andy Parker, father of Alison, in an interview with Fox News. “I’m going to do something, whatever it takes, to get gun legislation, to shame people, to shame legislators into doing something about closing loopholes in background checks and making sure crazy people don’t get guns.”

There’s certainly something to be said for allowing an appropriate amount of time to grieve the loss of the victims of this horrible tragedy and the other ones like it, but in 2015, news moves faster than ever. Like Alison’s father, I believe people should learn about the potential benefits of either banning guns altogether or greatly increasing the difficulty of acquiring one while the emotions from a shooting are still raw.

By the time we finish grieving, the collective mind of the world has moved on to the latest drama and the attention paid to articles arguing in favor of gun control or increased mental illness awareness decreases monumentally.

That’s why it’s no surprise that the family of the victims, at least in this case, agreed that the perfect time to pressure pro-gun legislators is immediately in the wake of an incident.

So, let’s talk about gun control. Naturally, such a despicable action occurring with such widespread exposure caused a firestorm of reactions online. Many gun enthusiasts immediately clutched their pearls and started defending their right to bear arms in various ways, each representing varying degrees of misguided.

You’ve probably heard pro-gun activists say they use their guns to protect themselves. However, in 2011, the Violence Policy Center put together a study, later cited in the New York Times, questioning how often guns were used to protect people instead of harm them. The study found that from 2006 to 2010, there were 44 criminal homicides committed with a firearm for every one homicide committed with a firearm in self-defense.

The numbers are somewhat dated now, but it’s not hard to imagine them getting even more lopsided over the last few years as shootings have become more and more frequent.

Other arguments often claim criminals are going to acquire weapons regardless of whether they’re deemed legal or illegal.

This would be a compelling point, were there not scores upon scores of evidence showing that either banning guns or highly regulating their purchase would quickly decrease the quantity of homicides.

A researcher named Joshua Tewksury compiled firearm-related death data from various highly developed nations and compared it to each country’s guns owned per capita. He found a clear positive relationship between the number of guns owned in a country and the number of its gun-related deaths; more guns means more killings.

America has exponentially more guns than any other country, and thus has exponentially more firearm-related deaths. Logically, just taking any quantity of guns out of the market would thus help decrease the number of deaths.

When the Australian government chose to enact a gun buy-back program in 1996 and ban the personal ownership of firearms, the country saw drastic changes in gun violence. As of 2012, gun-related deaths per year in Australia decreased by greater than 50 percent. Australia has yet to endure a mass shooting since the one that prompted those changes. Even though criminals were still able to acquire some guns, the ultimate result was relative peace.

If there is action the United States can take to reduce the number of deaths due to firearm use each year, then it must be taken; it doesn’t have to be perfect.

There is no catch-all policy that can completely eliminate gun-related deaths and mass shootings in the U.S. But there doesn’t need to be — just some sort of improvement from our current situation. Enforcing strict background checks, disallowing the ownership of non-handguns or banning guns altogether could all decrease the high amount of gun violence in America.

Yes, people make the ultimate decision to kill other people, but they use readily available guns to do so. Guns don’t need to be harder to obtain because of the responsible citizens who own them, they need to be harder to obtain for the tiny minority of citizens who use them to commit murder.

To argue in favor of the right to bear arms is to aid in the killing of thousands of innocent people every year.

Shooting after shooting will continue to occur unless gun control is implemented in America. We can’t wait until weeks after each massacre, once all is forgotten, to fix this problem. The time to amend the second amendment is now.

Matt is a junior in Media. 

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