I had never thought about getting killed at school before Columbine happened. It was certainly a scary thought that I could be sitting in Math class and be dead a moment later.9/11 happened as I started my Senior year of High School. By the time I graduated it felt like America’s innocence had been lost, and I was graduating into a whole new world. If America were a VHS, I would have rewound it into the innocent, naive past and paused there forever. But just like a movie playing, the world moved forward. All of those promises we made after Columbine were lost. America gave thoughts and prayers, said “never again” and “things need to change”.
Many gun owners equate gun control with the idea that their guns will be taken away. This is not the case. The GOP likes to fear monger this idea, and not educate Americans on how these regulations would actually work. This is because they receive a TON of money from the gun lobby. We are talking over 18.6 million on various campaigns. Though 90% of Americans support a simple background check for every gun purchase, the right wing congress values their funding over the lives of every man woman and child in this country. But, not to worry. If god forbid one of your friends or family every get shot, they will tweet their thoughts and prayers for you.
Let’s be clear. Having effective gun control laws in place will not take away guns. Americans will still be able to hunt with them, own & buy them. The laws we need so desperately would simply make it harder to obtain a gun. This means, if you piss off a crazy person, they can’t just walk to the nearest Walmart, buy as many semi-automatic weapons as they want, and massacre you and your entire office staff. I can’t imagine why anyone would be ok with that idea.
So why can’t America grow some balls and follow the lead of other countries who have taken a stand against these shootings?
Lets take a look at Australia, Norway, and Great Britain.
After Australia’s Port Arthur massacre in 1996 which killed 35 people, strict gun control laws were put in place. The new legislation prohibited sale of semi-automatic and rapid fire guns. They required a 28 day waiting period to obtain a gun. Firearm owners had to be 18, complete a safety course, and have a genuine reason for owning a gun. Reasons could include sport shooting, hunting or occupational requirements. The amount of ammunition sold was restricted, and gun licenses could be restricted if evidence of mental illness was found. They also used revenue from a small tax hike to buy back over 700,000 fire arms. By 2012, suicide rates had dropped by 80%. Studies show the laws have not ended gun violence, but have decreased it in huge numbers. There hasn’t been a school shooting
In response to the 1996 Dunblane school shooting, the UK completely banned sale of semi-automatic and pump action firearms. They began to require gun registration, and banned private handgun ownership in mainland Britain. Though the drop in gun violence wasn’t as significant as it was in Australia, the number of killing are still less than 10% of those that happen in America.
In Norway in 2011, a shooter mass murdered 69 people on Utoya Island attending youth camp. Gun ownership and ammunition sales were strictly regulated in response, and a full ban on the type of semi-automatic weapon used was put into place. There are now 32 guns to every 100 people in Norway, and 89 per 100 in the United States.
I think the important thing we can take from these three countries, is that they took action. Yes, everyone knows that taking the same precautions these countries have will not end gun violence. There will always be a way to get guns illegally, even with laws. That old saying that guns don’t kill people, people kill people is true. But a person with a semi-automatic and unlimited ammunition can do a hell of a lot more damage than someone with a knife can. If implementing some restrictions can save the live of even one innocent victim, why wouldn’t we?
Despite what your views on gun control are, I hope there’s one thing I hope we can all agree on. School and massacre shootings are a tragic, horrific thing. They should make you angry. They should make you livid. As an American citizen and human they should make you want to stand up and shout for a change. Because if nothing changes, we will be here in another 19 years still saying “never again.”