That post was made by a political commentator in 2015 and still rings true today, even following the worst massacre in Las Vegas on Sunday. As an American who has been privileged enough to live and travel abroad and experience these tragedies both close to home (in one case, a bit too close) and from the other side of the world, I’ve come to have a certain perspective on the issue of gun control.
I’m sure most Americans have a story of how they have been associated with a shooting. Most recently, I was going out for my friend Lilli’s birthday in my hometown of Tucson when I heard about a shooting in a restaurant someone she knew worked near. The friend, a worker in a nearby shop, came home to tell us how they were told to lock up and get down. This was also especially close to home for Lilli because her dad is a firefighter and the fire captain was the perpetrator, killing two and himself. I ask you: how close to home do these have to be until everyone is outraged at the lack of gun control?
“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” are almost certainly the weakest argument out there. It’s widely known that gun control was highly regulated in Australia after a mass shooting in 1996 and there hasn’t been any since. Under a conservative government, semi-automatic rifles and shotguns were banned and bought back by the government and background checks with “justifiable reason” to own a gun were put in place. In addition to no mass shootings, rate of homicide and suicide with the use of guns have gone down since the gun ban as well. With the gun ban, there was widespread decreased deaths. Coincidence? I think not (watch: comedian John Oliver on guns in Australia vs. the United States).
However, I don’t believe such a gun ban would work here due to our (slow) government structure and misinterpretation of the second amendment. What is an amendment in the first place? A change to the constitution. Who says we can’t change it further? For my constitution enthusiasts, surely you’re familiar that the 18th amendment prohibited the manufacturing or sale of alcohol and its repeal some 15 years later. We need legislation more up to date with the state of gun violence and technology available.
Personally, as an advocate for recreational hunting, a total gun ban wouldn’t be appropriate, even if it was politically possible. I also don’t mind owning simple handguns to shoot recreationally in a range. When you enter these spaces, you are expected to know and adhere to safety procedures and an ethical standard of fair chase.
However, there is absolutely no reason, at all, whatsoever, you need to own an assault rifle. If nobody has these guns, then you won’t need it for “self-defense.” Even the police in lots of European countries don’t carry firearms because gun violence isn’t a problem in the first place.
I’m not proud to be a part of a country where people can continue to make excuses for mass shootings. One innocent life lost was too many.