November 15th, 2015, around 12 pm, I watched all the students in my Math class run in the corner of the classroom and crouch down under the big table after the voice in the speaker went, “We’re going on lockdown”. Not knowing what to do, I followed them since it was my first time encountering such things. Confusion took over me; my head was filled with thousands of questions. Not long after, our teacher who was wearing high heels earlier was tip-toeing as slowly approaching us. The room went dead silent after she whispered, “This is no longer a drill; an armed man was seen wandering around our school”. I was shocked. Soon, I came to realize that the thoughts in my head were no longer curiosity, rather it was horror and the concern whether we will make it alive. Two hours passed by, no sign of the shooter at our door; no sound of violence was heard. Right when we thought we were safe, there was a knock. Everybody began to panic and my hope of returning home alive faded away. A man with a gun appeared in front of our eyes but to our surprise, it was the local police officer who had come to make sure we were okay. He informed us that no such man was found around the area and concluded it to be a prank call. We were relieved. The following semester, I was introduced to the Bill of Rights in my American History class and realized how easy the constitution made it for people to bear arms. Back then, the passing of such a right made perfect sense to me because it was for self-defense. However, three years later, I started to question it when seventeen kids were killed in Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Questions like how do people like Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old, get to purchase guns in America? Is there any background check? Why are mass shootings more frequent around here in America than in any other countries and what policies is the government taking to reduce mass shootings? Is banning guns an option? After some research, I found out that the number of mass shootings has been increasing massively over the past few years, and Congress has finally taken the issue of gun violence into account. They’re still debating about which laws may be effective in reducing it. On the other hand, after the Parkland shooting in 2018, there have been new laws passed in some states by the state legislatures. These include raising the age limit on gun purchases, stricter background checks, and seize guns from those who seem to pose dangers to themselves and others (Maledez, S, 2019). However, even with all these new laws, someone was still able to shoot up a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, leading to the death of 22 people in August 2019. Therefore, based on my research, I can argue that such laws of doing strict background checks, seizing guns, or raising the age limit aren’t helping reduce mass shootings, and the best way to prevent it would be to completely ban the possession of guns from the American society.
While looking for the answer to my first question, I found out a strict background check is conducted during the selling of guns, however, it has a loophole that fails the entire purpose of it which is not handing in guns to murderers. I decided to start my research by visiting the Wayne State Library website. I went to Summon, and typed in my first question, how are guns purchased in the United States. As soon as I pressed enter, hundreds of articles appeared on the screen. One of the articles titled Trump endorses background checks for gun purchases: USA SHOOTINGS caught my attention, and I decided to skim through it. As I started reading, I came across the fact that not all gun purchasers needed their background checked. According to the article, “In February, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill mandating federal background checks for all gun purchases, including those made online or at gun shows, which are largely unregulated. But the leader of the Republican majority in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, has refused to bring the measure to a vote in the upper chamber” (EFE News Service, 2019). This means that the purchase of guns at gun shows or online is available to everybody. Anyone who has enough money could easily walk out with a gun without even having their background checked. This anyone can range from people buying it for self-defense to people who are mentally ill and are planning on a massacre. Such a law of doing “background checks” is not safe and it brings danger to everybody.
As I continued with my research, I learned that some states consider raising the age limit of gun purchases to be effective in reducing the number of mass shootings. As an attempt to further my knowledge on the ways the states are trying to resolve this issue besides the background check, I typed in “solutions to the mass shooting in the USA” in Summon. Unfortunately, the articles that popped up didn’t seem to have the answer to my question. But I needed answers, which is why I decided to google my question. While scrolling down, I found the article The Effects of Minimum Age Requirements which stated that raising the age limit can be a solution and that two states had already implemented it. It further stated “by restricting youth access, minimum age restrictions could reduce rates of firearm suicide or unintentional shootings by the affected age group” (Rand.org, 2019). But the previous article about background checks says otherwise. As I mentioned earlier, the federal law made guns easily accessible to people if it’s bought from a gun shop or online, and no actions have been taken against them yet. It doesn’t require any background checks, therefore anyone, even those who have been denied access due to their young age by their states, will have access to it. Thus, raising the age limit of gun purchases will have no effect, and would be nothing but just one more law added to the law books.
The next thing I found is that people blame mental illness as one of the main factors of mass shootings. According to the article, President Trump addressed mental illness as a cause by stating ‘It’s a mental problem, and we’re going to be meeting with members of Congress,’ after the Texas shooting. He proposed background checks saying “I think background checks are important”(EFE News Service, 2019). Background checks prohibit people suffering from mental illness from bearing arms. But another article titled Mass Shootings, Mental Illness, and Gun Control which I obtained from Summon states that “it is relatively easy for those with serious mental illnesses to pass current background checks and legally obtain guns” because some states fail to submit their mental health records (Jones, S 2019). It further explains that many people purchase their firearms long before they begin to show evidence of severe mental illness” therefore, seizing the guns from them would require proof which may take longer to obtain. This means that they can walk freely with guns on them and can harm others if they want to until their illness is proven.
As I carried on the search for my answers, I discovered that the US had far more incidents of gun violence compared to other countries. Why? The article What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? answers the question by saying “Americans makeup about 4.4 percent of the global population but own 42 percent of the world’s guns” (Fisher M, Keller J. 2019). This suggests the US has more guns compared to its population. In another article, New Zealand took 6 days to plan new laws. Here’s how other countries reacted to shooting presents examples of other countries where the percentage of gun violence went down after they changed their gun policy. According to it, New Zealand announced a national ban on military-style semi-automatic guns after the mass shooting in March 2019. After the homicide in the Tasmanian town of Port Arthur, John Howard, Australia’s conservative prime minister at the time, made guns a privilege, not a right. British Parliament had outlawed the private ownership of nearly all handguns in 1997 after someone killed 16 kids (Mervosh, S. 2019). These are all examples that show that more guns mean more violence.
Over the past years, mass shootings have become so common in America that the only way to reduce it is to ban civilians from the possession of guns. I have learned that Congress and the States are trying to resolve the issue by requiring strict background checks, raising the age limit, and denying mentally ill people access to guns but based on what I found, these solutions are not helping. I believe a revision of the second amendment and completely banning guns will put an end to this. I still want to know about the disadvantages of a gun ban and look forward to seeing how Congress ends the chapter of mass shootings from the history of America.