In San Bernardino last week, there was a shooting in which 14 people were killed and at least 21 others wounded. According to the Washington Post, this tragedy marked the 355th mass shooting that we’ve seen in America this year.
So what is a “mass shooting?” There are a couple definitions of this term, but the one that the Washington Post used for its report is “incidents in which four or more people, including the gunman, are killed or injured by gunfire.” Using this definition, a mass shooting could include murder/suicides and gang shootings, which are not things that always come to mind when we hear the term “mass shooting.”
However, all of these types of events—all 355 of them—point to the same things: gun violence in our country is increasing (there were 281 mass shootings in 2014), and our gun laws are not up to par.
Despite these statistics, one only needs to read the online comments on a news article to know that many people in this country oppose stricter gun regulation. The arguments I see in these online comments often don’t seem very well thought out.
These are the most common arguments I’ve seen:
“Anyone can own a gun because of the Second Amendment! Gun regulation is unconstitutional!”
Although the Second Amendment definitely gives citizens the right to bear arms, we have to keep in mind that when this amendment to the Constitution was written in 1791, the gun situation was severely different. Our founding fathers owned rifles, not assault weapons. They were also using their weapons to feed their families, and were literally going to war using their own weapons. Also, the second amendment guarantees a well-regulated militia, which it has been argued refers to the state government’s right to self-defense for their state, and not to individual citizen’s rights.
“Cars kill people too! Why don’t we regulate cars?”
This is the argument I see that makes the least sense, but I see it a lot. It is just a ridiculous argument, because cars are very regulated! We have to own the title for a car. We are trained how to drive a car, and we have to take a written and a practical test in order to get a license to use a car. We also have to meet health requirements in order to get that license. We have to renew that license every five years. We have to have the car registered and have liability insurance in order for it to be legal. All of these things seem like common sense to us, because a person driving a car who hadn’t gone through all of these precautions would be dangerous. The same is true for guns, but for some reason, many oppose these same laws when applied to gun ownership.
“People will still get guns no matter what, even if the gun laws are stricter.”
The best retort I’ve seen to this argument was in a tweet from John Francis Daley. His response was “Yeah, you’re right. Just to be safe, let’s do nothing.” This really seems to be the solution according to the people who use this argument. However, this same logic doesn’t work for other dangerous things. For example, no one would ever use this argument against drug regulation. People all over the country get meth and heroin every day, but the solution isn’t to de-regulate these substances and make it easier for everyone to get their hands on them. It doesn’t make sense for drugs, so why do people think it makes sense for guns?
Now don’t get me wrong, I fully support those who own guns legally and responsibly. I fully support the right of people to own a weapon for self-defense or hunting. But at the very least, shouldn’t we enact common sense legislation that would help end mass shootings and increase the safety of the country? Maybe a law that would improve our background checks so that those who are unfit to own a gun or are on the terror watch list can’t slip through a loophole to purchase guns legally in the US?
Apparently, no, according to the Senate. Just last Thursday, one day after the shooting in San Bernardino, the Senate voted against legislation that would bar suspected terrorists, felons, and the mentally ill from buying guns, and argued that the legislation, if passed, would strip people of their constitutional rights. They put rights of the very few people who may be wrongly denied owning a gun for a while ahead of the 462 people who have lost their lives in mass shootings this year.
Most people in our country want to have a safe environment for us all to live in—one where we don’t have to fear for our lives while going out to a movie, going to school or going to the doctor. Unfortunately, thanks to the Senate and badly thought out arguments on Facebook, common sense gun regulation is something that continues to be argued about, while nothing is being done to stop the shootings that are happening every single day in this country. How many more until we do something about it?