Our Right to Live | Gun Control in America

Isabella Todini, Reporter

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“We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks. Not because we’re going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because…we are going to be the last mass shooting.” These powerful words were spoken by Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and a survivor of the mass shooting that took place there on February 14, 2018. The flame that Gonzalez sparked has quickly become a blazing fire, emboldening students to speak up and take action against the current gun legislation in the United States.

The United States Congress confirms that there is nearly one mass shooting per day in the U.S. In 2015 alone there were 355 mass shootings. There has been a mass shooting almost every single day in 2018, and we’re not even halfway through March. Every day, 92 Americans are killed due to gun violence: that approximates to one death every 15 minutes, resulting in over 33,000 deaths per year. Every hour, an American under 25 is killed due to gun violence.

So, what is the most significant statistic to consider? It is not the fact that 42% of all civilian-owned guns in the world are owned by Americans, or even the fact that “children ages 5 to 14 are 11 times more likely to be killed with a gun in the US compared to other developed countries”. No, it is the fact that although the U.S. government is aware of these staggering numbers, only ten acts working towards better gun control have been passed by Congress since the National Firearms Act of 1934. None of these acts ban the possession or sales of guns, nor do they legalize the registration of firearms. There is no law that bans the sale of gun accessories that turn semi-automatic rifles into automatic rifles and there exists no federal law that legally requires gun owners to have a license to carry concealed firearms.

Although it is unlikely that guns can be completely banned within the United States, particularly in this political climate, significant change can still be made in order to drastically improve the safety of U.S. citizens by placing restrictions on gun ownership in the U.S. Major steps need to be taken at the federal level in order to ensure that semi-automatic and automatic firearms are no longer legal in the United States. As well as to develop a better system to monitor who owns guns and to implement a more comprehensive and effective background check for future gun owners.

However, the change that can and must be made does not stop at rich, American politicians. In fact, as the victims of the school shooting in Florida demonstrate, it is up to students like us to be the true activists for change. It is up to us to boycott corporations that show support to gun-advocate organizations (by offering members discounts) like the NRA (National Rifle Association), to march and protest inhumane gun violence, and to advocate for our right to live. Alone, we are each only a small, flickering light, but together we can be the blinding force that changes the world, saves lives, and makes history. Because right now, the message being received from those who are part of groups like the NRA, or those who are in support of widespread firearm ownership, or those who are simply standing by — allowing children to be murdered — is that one American’s right to own a gun is worth more than another American’s right to live.