Gun Laws and Mass Shootings

Rufus Simmons
Staff Writer

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PC: Al_HikesAZ/Flickr

Valentine’s Day, a holiday that is meant to symbolize love, was plagued with an event that has become far too common in the present day of the United States: a mass shooting. On Feb. 14, Nikolas Cruz, a high school dropout who, according to the New York Times, was known to be troubled, killed 17 of his former classmates and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

This horrible mass shooting is one of an abundance in recent history. According to Theguardian.com, “Data from the Gun Violence Archive reveals there is a mass shooting – defined as four or more people shot in one incident, not including the shooter – nine out of every 10 days on average.” One thing makes this shooting stand out more than others, however, is that it occurred at a school.

While many people in the United States have a positive educational experience, an unfortunate reality is, according to Time Magazine, that schools have become a hotspot for shootings. As a result, this has once again pushed the topic of gun control to the forefront of American politics. Gun control, like abortion, elicits a strong ideological divide between Americans on the left and right of the American political spectrum.

A common sentiment among the right wing in America is that guns will protect people from armed, mentally unstable people. This right wing political view was conveyed on Feb. 22, when President Donald Trump tweeted, “If a potential ‘sicko shooter’ knows that a school has a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school. Cowards won’t go there…problem solved. Must be offensive, defense alone won’t work.”

The solution to shooting offered by the left wing in America, is to tighten gun control laws. The gun that Nikolas Cruz used is known as the AR 15, a semi-automatic rifle, that can be supplemented with an accessory called bump stocks, to perform like a fully automatic rifle.

Interestingly, on Feb. 22, Trump also tweeted “I will be strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks with an emphasis on Mental Health. Raise the age to 21 and end sale of Bump Stocks! Congress is in a mood to finally do something on this issue – I hope!” This willingness to accept and even encourage some type of gun restriction from a focal figure in the right wing is a big change; however, a tweet isn’t action.

Action does seem to be being taken. This past Saturday, the Department of Justice gave notice that they are officially in pursuit for bump stocks to be banned under federal law.

This succeeded news that Florida Governor, Roy Scott, signed a new gun law that, according to the New York Times, along with raising the minimum age for purchasing guns from 18 to 21, bans the “possession of ‘bump stocks,’ funds more school police officers and mental health services, broadens law enforcement’s power to seize weapons and allows certain staff members to carry guns in schools.”

This new law is an obvious mix of what the left and right wings have been voicing recently. It is refreshing to see an approach that will not ostracize the ideals of half of a community. However, according to CNBC News, the National Rifle Association (NRA) does not agree with the legislation passed by Governor Scott and has responded with a lawsuit against the state of Florida.

The NRA has expressed that they believe that raising the age requirement for purchasing a firearm infringes upon the constitutional rights of 18 to 20-year-olds.

The remedy to these mass shooting isn’t something that anyone can expect to be simple. But, the constant failure of the American political system to make substantial changes to gun legislation, might be what is fueling the fire of these atrocities.

Hopefully, something will be done soon. No solution will ever be able to appease every American, but for the sake of this nation, something needs to be done.



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