On Jan. 23, shots rang out at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky. A 15-year-old male student tragically murdered two students and injured 18. This is a headline we see far too often. This event marks the eleventh school shooting since the beginning of 2018.
After every school shooting, questions and concerns arise over gun control and whether or not it needs to be re-examined. Those who take a pro-gun stance believe that it is our right as Americans to own guns for our own protection. They say it is written in the Second Amendment; the right to bear arms. Yet, the wording and usage of this bill seems far too outdated to justify the weapons of today. The weaponry of our forefathers was not as advanced and powerful as what we currently have in the 21st century.
Guns are best left in the hands of professional security guards, police officers and military personnel. Unfortunately, citizens across the political spectrum, whether they be Democrat, Republican or Independent, cannot agree on a common stance on gun ownership.
Here is a compromise. If a person wants to own a gun, they should have to meet the following requirements. An age restriction of 21 should be the first requirement. If you have to wait until you are 21 to purchase alcohol, you should have to wait until you are 21 to buy a gun; this varies by state. In the state of North Carolina, the minimum age is currently 18. This could possibly help stop school shootings by 18–year-olds who are still enrolled at high school.
The second test should be a mental evaluation. The evaluation should be conducted by a licensed psychiatrist in the person’s state of residence to see if they have a mental health issue that could impair them from using their firearm safely. If they have a severe mental illness that could lead them to use the gun wrongfully, they will be denied ownership.
For the third test, fledgling gun owners should be obligated to enroll in a course on gun safety. They will then learn how to properly shoot, conceal and take care of their guns. They will demonstrate their newly crafted skills through a written test to quiz them on gun usage. Gun owners will take one final test that demonstrates their physical skills using a gun. After they are cleared, they would be free to obtain a license to have their firearm (within reason) of choice.
Although this outlined process can help, it still does not fully eliminate the violence guns can and sometimes do cause. There is always the issue of children and adolescents finding the spot where the gun is hidden.
It is crucial for parents to have a serious discussion with their families about gun safety and the proper use of a weapon. A high number of injuries and fatalities can be avoided if people are properly informed. Guns are authoritative tools that can be released with the pull of a trigger. With that much power held in one hand, it should be held by a person who is capable of lawfully using it.
Along with ignorance to safe gun practices, the media plays a substantial role in our culture and how we view guns. For example, in music, the song “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster The People tells the story of a lonely boy who brings a gun to his high school. It glorifies the tragic event of a shooting, and makes gun violence seem less important. This could be a dangerous message for a teenager who feels ostracized and without another choice.
These depictions show how we need to improve as a society. We often dismiss those who look like disturbed teenagers. In reality, we should not ignore them. They may need help and do not know how to find it. If they do not receive a comprehensive medical evaluation, they could lash out by hurting themselves or others, as seen in the recent string of school shootings.
We as Americans need to have an open dialogue concerning the matter. Open discussion of events like these and why they happen are critical. We need to come together on a local level through community meetings and town halls to identify the problems and solutions. Then, concerns should be taken to the state for analysis. Lastly, the issue could be solved on a national level.
Too many lives have been taken far too soon over these heinous acts. With strict gun regulations, education on firearms and advocating for those with mental illness, we can end the narrative of school shootings once and for all.