The US has the highest gun ownership rate in the world – an average of 88 per 100 people. The rate of death from firearms in the United States is eight times higher than that of its economic counterparts in other areas of the world. The overall firearm-related death rate among U.S. children younger than 15 is almost 12 times higher than among children in 25 other industrialized countries put together (CDC, Morbidity and Mentality). In the US, there are more than 129,817 federally licensed firearm dealers. To put that in perspective, there are roughly 37,000 grocery stores and 140,000 gas stations. We have surpassed excessive.
It is a staple of our country to flaunt and brag about our second amendment rights. Those rights exist so that we may rise up and defend ourselves against a tyrannical government. Since the institution of that beloved amendment, thousands of people have died at the hand of firearms, while we have taken out not even one threatening governmental tyrant. The argument of self-protection is voiced every day, but it’s been proven that handguns are not helpful for self-protection unless you are trained to use them. So trained even, that it is in your muscle memory to draw and shoot a weapon. It was almost certainly remarked today “If only one of the teachers had had a gun.” One of them did. She actually owned several. Her child used them to kill her and 20 children.
We have a problem of equating guns to vehicles. Because they’re both dangerous and take lives, I suppose. The truth is, if guns were treated half as strictly as cars, we wouldn’t be in the sinking boat we’re in now. Liability insurance required on every one, registration and title with every purchase and trade, drivers tests required, certain physical and mental restrictions, and when one is stolen it’s a lot bigger of deal. So no, the two are not the same at all. Anyone with no criminal record who has not been declared mentally incompetent could buy a gun today. And all of this somehow makes sense to us.
The thing is, even if all of the arguments I deem as bogus are true—even if gun control doesn’t work in the U.S and it just replicates the failed attempts of the War on Drugs—at least we know we need to try something else. But we can’t just sit around and do nothing. We can’t shake our heads and cry every time something like this happens and discuss what a tragedy it is but continuously do absolutely nothing. To act like that is to put a hand in the face of every victim of mass murder and say “You don’t matter enough to us to make us want to try.” We put our hobbies and enthusiasms and desires to flamboyantly protect our homes with needless semi automatic weapons above both the lives we’ve already lost, and the lives we could potentially save.
If now is not the time to talk about gun reform, when is? If not today, after twenty little babies did not get to return home from school, then when? We are all completely filled with sadness about the losses the world had today, but it is with that sadness that we should urge people to understand and wake up. We hide behind the tragedy saying “Don’t politicize something so terrible”. That mentality is inexcusable. We need to fight for those children and their teachers. We need to fight for every life taken in a mass murder. It’s time to stand up and admit that our current system is failing. That our monotonous mutterings of “Guns don’t kill people, people do” need to be shoved where the sun doesn’t shine. The time has long passed for us to stop putting our gun cabinets over our neighbor’s lives. We must put the lives that we are lucky enough to still have to use. It’s time to fight for those we’ve lost and fight even harder for all we can save.
Alexis is a political science and journalism student at the University of Arkansas with a passion for civil rights and labor law. She intends to devote her life to public service. She loves debating, Mexican food, and decorating.