ELTHAM HIGH SCHOOL ANTHOLOGY
Oral Point of View: Should America Reform Gun Laws?
Xavier, Jackie, Rojeli, and 16 other children shot dead. On the 24th of May this year, an 18-year-old boy committed a senseless act of gun violence at Robb Elementary School callously murdering 19 children and 2 adults. All because the current gun laws permit 18-year-old boys, barely adults, to buy two assault rifles, as if you were buying a new jumper from Target. I ask you, just as President Biden spoke to his nation “why are we willing to live with this carnage?” The empty thoughts and prayers rhetoric of autocratic politicians are not enough; they certainly are not going to bring back the dead. It is simple: gun laws must be reformed. The constitution enshrines the right to bear arms, but as famous American actor Matthew McConaughey stated, “Keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous people is the best way to protect the Second Amendment.” Regardless of their political stance, Americans must stand up to the gun lobby in order to save the innocent lives of children. The frequency of violent mass shootings are uniquely an American phenomenon, which can only be reduced or even ceased by the implementation of more effective background checks and licensing reform.
When loving Parents drop their child off at school, they have the expectation that they will pick them up at the end of the day. However, the failed gun background checks have left trusting American parents repeatedly in an agonising wait, as they are soon told, they will never get to hug their child again.
Every president has pleaded for the same action - more effective background checks. Nevertheless, nothing has changed. In 2013, after the Sandy Hook Primary school massacre, where 20 children were shot, the Congress absurdly blocked Barak Obama’s demands for a partisan Senate amendment to expand background checks for gun purchases. The Senators opposed, disgustingly decided that restricting gun freedom was not worth saving vulnerable children. These National Rifle Association (NRA) members bark, “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” Yet apparently, kids have the right to go to school without fear of being shot and citizens have the right to go to a supermarket without needing to wear a bulletproof vest. Why should gun rights be classified as more important than these basic human rights? This selfish and narrow-minded view is not acceptable in our modern society today. Senators must not give into the NRA bullies and must honour their moral obligations, rather than enter into a Faustian pact that sees them more concerned with personal wealth than the wellbeing of their citizens. Said by a Sandy Hook Elementary teacher, “with a reform of gun laws , no more will the sound of a book dropping on the library floor, send kids hiding under the table, as they think it was a gunshot.”
Although these horrific shootings have become depressingly familiar for all American citizens, they are not remotely normal for the rest of the planet. Firearms are the leading cause of death of American children and teens. Alone this year USA has had a shocking 96 school gun incidents, 40 deaths and 78 injuries, according to EVERYTOWN association. America is the only country in the world where civilian guns outnumber people. Additionally, NRA propose, “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
This flow diagram illustrates their cycle of inaction. As you can see, it is a never-ending loop of bloodshed. More guns means more killers, leading to more mass shootings. NRA’s ignorant proposals are contributing to the massacres. In turn fracturing families. Let’s compare this violence to our safe home here in Australia. After the 35 people killed in 1996, by a man with a rifle, Australian Government acted quickly to enforce strong new gun laws of banning semiautomatic rifles and creating a 28-day waiting period for gun purchases. Since this passing of the National firearm agreement, there has not been ONE mass shooting. Once again proving, stricter gun laws will ensure children get to go home at the end of the school day.
Americans should not become accustomed to these distressing mass shootings in a free society. Stated by Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, “people that are shooting people- that are killing kids-they’re not following gun laws.” Undoubtedly, Paxton is correct, but what he fails to address is that the gun laws are supposed to stop the “bad guys”. Last month, the lack of firearm restriction allowed an 18-year-old boy to purchase a rifle and inhumanely kill 10 people in a local Supermarket. David Smith expert on US studies expressed, “Unless he had a criminal record or violent history, a background check would have done nothing.” Hence, their system is evidently broken. So how do we change this?
The imperative next step forward is establishing an effective licensing system in every US state. Before even going to a gun store, people would have to take a firearm safety course and submit an application to the police department. This thorough background check would properly identify and screen out people who should not have guns, whilst reducing impulsive gun purchases. Demonstrated in Connecticut, after the state passed a licensing law, firearm homicide rate decreased by 40 %, according to Gifford’s law centre. Similar to Australia’s policy, US should introduce a mandatory buyback, taking away all guns, and in exchange providing payment to gun owners to compensate for loss of property. With fewer illegal guns in the circulation, we will finally see a reduction of these carnages.
American citizens together, alongside the rest of the world cannot allow the slaughtering of thousands of helpless children each year, for the sake of pro-gun activists holding onto their precious power. We have to be realistic; banning guns is not possible. However, something has to be done. As David Hogg, activist for gun reform tweeted, “We know what we disagree on, but focus on what we can agree on.” Let there be no more minutes of silence. No more thoughts and prayers. No more empty promises. It is time for bipartisan action. It is time to reform gun laws. It is time to save children’s lives.