Gun Control: A Debate That’s Costing Lives

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Nicole RejerNicole Rejer is a freshman psychology major.

The beginning of October was absolutely devastating for the people of Roseburg, Oregon, as a mass shooting took place at Umpqua Community College. There, Christopher Harper-Mercer, a 26-year old student, shot nine people and injured another nine people on campus. He later killed himself after a shootout with the police. This country has seen more than its fair share of mass shootings in the past couple of years. What’s worse, many of them are at schools, and the targets include bright students and young people with promising futures. We’ve heard of Columbine, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, and Newtown. And many more continue to happen. So why are we not doing anything to stop this? Have we become so desensitized that we are willing to admit that this is a part of our society? That this is beyond our control? That this is normal?I think that one of the most important aspects of American life is the Bill of Rights, and the right to bear arms is definitely something that we should treasure and respect. But there needs to be some kind of balance, and this means enforcing more regulations to a largely unregulated business. The low levels of gun regulation in this country are obscene. Even though the gun laws in California tend to be stricter than in other parts of the country, some states have barely any regulation. For example, in Oregon, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, you don’t need a state permit to purchase a gun. You don’t need firearm registration or owner licenses. Assault weapons are not restricted and there is no legislation about assault weapons. It’s essentially a free-for-all.

So why is this problem not being addressed efficiently? Could it be because we have bigger problems than gun control? Shooters are not the biggest killers in America, but in the United States, over 30,000 people die of gunshots per year. According to CNN, in the year and half since the Sandy Hook massacre, there have been 74 shootings on or around schools or colleges. Simply put, that’s one shooting a week. It is more than clear that the regulations in place now are simply not enough. We have a gun problem.

It’s critical to understand that safer gun restrictions will not lead to anarchy. Nor does it mean that all guns will be banned, or that the United States will be overrun by some other country because we can’t protect ourselves. Instead, reasonable restrictions are actually critical to the continuation of our Second Amendment rights . They will curb the unneeded bloodshed caused by just giving away guns to anybody; to people abuse their rights, to people who have no responsibility, and to people who are not mentally sound. Gun laws in every state should require a gun license, a permit to carry and buy guns, comprehensive background checks, and regulations on the types of guns sold throughout the state as well.

Getting a gun should not be as easy as it is today. Everyday processes such as getting one’s driving licenses are more convoluted. 30,000 lives a year is not a sacrifice we Americans should be willing to make in order to continue this nation’s tradition of giving everybody the right to bear arms. We need to rethink our priorities, focusing less on our right to bear arms and more on the value of human lives.

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