image courtesy of New York Times
In the United States it’s easier to buy a gun than to own a home. With a home purchase you have to go through months of inquiry into your financial, job and relationship history. Everything is verified multiple times and at any times if something does not ‘check out’ you are immediately denied the home loan. People plan for years to be ready to purchase their home. However if you wake up one morning and want to buy a gun in the United States, you may have to wait a maximum of 7 days to purchase a piece of weapon that can kill another person. So what’s the problem? Should we ban weapons all together and only allow police and the army to have them? Of course not, however we must start having real discussions about gun control/education and stop hiding behind the belief that to discuss gun control means we are trying to take away people’s rights to ‘bear arms’. Never again do we want to turn on the news and learn that innocent children and adults were killed by someone who should not have been given access to guns in the first place.
This discussion has to be about common sense and gun control that will help protect our most precious commodity- our children who far too often get guns in their hands. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control gun violence claims over 30,000 lives annually; while each year approximately 100,000 Americans are victims of gun violence. When the statistics are narrowed to our young people the numbers are even more sobering. In 2007 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 3,042 children and teens died from gunfire in the United States in 2007—one every three hours, eight every day, 58 every week.
In simplistic terms, we have a problem. While many people argue that the solution lies within totally outlawing guns that is not the most common sense solution. Disarming law abiding citizens would make us targets for criminals. So what do we need to do? Address these key issues in regards to gun control :
1. Mandatory education class for anyone who buys a gun in our country. In some states,you simply need a driver’s license (meeting the minimum age requirement) and money and you can go into your local gun shop and buy a firearm. While other states are more stringent, there is almost no real mandates that really makes sure people are given the proper education on how to handle/take care/protect your family with a gun.
According to David Kopel’s study on gun control in Japan the differences are startling. To get a gun in Japan you have to attend an all day class, pass a written test (which is only held once a month). Then, you have to pass a rigorous background/mental health check for any criminal record. Lastly, you must provide police with documentation with the specific location of the gun in your home. (By the way, the gun and ammo must be stored in separate locations.) After all of that you can have the gun, but the police inspect the gun once a year and you have to retake the class and exam every three years!
2.Why do normal American citizens need military style assault weapons? The tragedy in Connecticut was compounded by the fact that the killer used his mother’s semiautomatic and assault weapons: a Bushmaster .223 caliber, Glock and Sig Sauer 9mm . These are all weapons that are meant to fire multiple bullets within seconds. Why do normal citizens need these type of weapons? Shouldn’t these type of weapons be reserved for military and police?
3.Why is music that blatantly glorifies gun violence is readily played across the air waves of our country? We complain about violence in our society; however, we listen (and allow our kids to buy) music that glorifies gun use and gang violence then we wonder why our teens are being killed due to gun violence. To make matters even worse, there are parents who have guns in their homes and they do not properly store them giving kids access to weapons that kill people.
In the end, a real discussion across political parties has to be had in this country about gun control. A conversation that is real, logical and most importantly figures out how to make our children safer. Don’t make the conversations about the cold, calculated killers like Adam Lanza but make it about those 26 beautiful teachers and students who were killed in Newtown, CT.They deserve it.