Updated: Mar 3
By Ilina Kabra
Image via Protect Lives Not Guns Facebook
First Sandy Hook on December 14th, 2008, then Las Vegas on October 1st, 2017, and finally Parkland on February 14th, 2018. These are just three of the 176 shootings that have occurred in the United States since the 1st of August, 1966. In the last 52 years, the citizens of the world have seen, heard, and mourned the deaths of 1,246 people, 199 of those being children, throughout 42 states from the irresponsible use of firearms in mass public shootings.
Following mass shootings in the United States, citizens are overcome with emotion towards the incident involving guns. These shootings are caused by people seeking vengeful motives and taking innocent lives with a weapon, set in the wrong hands by the laws introduced by the United States Government. The Second Amendment introduced and ratified on December 15th, 1791 which states that “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed” makes it challenging to improve gun legislation in the United States of America. In the United States, the fundamental problem is that in other countries, it is not in their constitution that citizens have the right to bear arms. Therefore, in other countries, changes to their gun control legislation can be made fairly easily. The United States is 1 out of 3 countries that state the right to own guns for self-defense in its constitution.
Elsewhere around the world, countries have substantially lower rates of incidents related to firearms. Of course, there are mass shootings in many other places such as China, Germany, and Switzerland. However, unlike the United States, German, Swiss, and Chinese politicians responded to massacres by implementing laws and policies to prevent such tragedy from ever occurring again.
German laws in regards to gun control are the most stringent in Europe. In Germany, the acquisition and possession of firearms are restricted, and fully automatic weapons are banned. The acquisition of weapons such as knives is severely restricted as well. Along with this, several reforms have been put in place in recent years that made the law even more stringent than it already is. Following a school shooting in Erfurt in 2003, a new weapons act was implemented. This act restricted the use of large-caliber weapons by the youth population as well as strengthening the requirements regarding the storage of such firearms. Following another mass shooting at Winnenden in 2009, a second reform was put into effect. This reform introduced a federal gun register and stringent monitoring of gun owners by the government with more requirements for the storage of firearms. However, this reform introduces a law that states that “authorities may at any time request access to the premises of any registered gun owner to monitor whether proper safe storage procedures are being observed” (Firearms-Control Legislation and Policy: Germany). The right to bear arms is not legally stated in the constitution, but the development of Germany’s gun control laws follow their turbulent history starting in the year 1928 following WWI. (Firearms-Control Legislation and Policy: Germany)
Switzerland, similar to Germany, has a gun-control regime that is governed by federal law and enforced by the cantons. Although this regime is debatably less restrictive than policies and laws on gun control in other European countries, it has complied with the requirements from the EU. The Swiss Weapons Act implies that all citizens require an acquisition license for handguns and must always carry a carrying license to carry any legal firearm for defensive purposes. The use of automatic weapons is banned. The Swiss militiamen are legally permitted to keep their “issued weapon” in their houses however, the bullets are not legally allowed to remain with the gun. In Switzerland, “the acquisition, possession, and use of firearms are shaped by gun-control legislation that applies to the civilian population and by regulations on the handling of firearms issued to militiamen.” (Firearms-Control Legislation and Policy: Switzerland). These two systems are there to prevent the abuse of firearms while “upholding the statutory right to bear arms which are based on longstanding Swiss traditions” (Firearms-Control Legislation and Policy: Switzerland).
Like Germany and Switzerland, the Chinese have been tightly controlling the use and possession of firearms since the beginning of the People’s Republic of China. The current model in the regulation of firearms is the Firearms-Control Law, which was implemented on October 1st in 1966. Generally, the private possession of firearms is prohibited with very few exceptions. Officials are strictly confined to police forces and government officials. Private use is strictly confined to hunting and wildlife protection, breeding, and research. The consequences for violating the gun control policies are harsh and intolerable. The illegal possession of firearms can result in police supervision, criminal detention, or fixed imprisonment for a maximum of 7 years. The illegal manufacturing, trading, transporting, mailing, and storing of firearms and explosive devices that have the ability to cause fatal damage can result in fixed imprisonment of 10- years, a prison sentence for life, or even death. The theft of firearms and the use of firearms to commit crimes result in the same punishments. (Firearms-Control Legislation and Policy: China)
In contrast to the three examples listed above, the United States legally allows citizens to bear arms in case of self-defense. This pervasive gun culture originates from the Country’s colonial history as well as its revolutionary roots and of course the II Amendment. Many pro-gun citizens would argue that the II Amendment protects one’s right to own guns for the use of self-defense from threats posed by criminals and foreign invaders, as well as the fact that the ownership of guns deters criminal behavior rather than encourage it. I disagree with that statement. It has been statistically shown that in 2018 there has been at least 1 school shooting a week.
As of 2015, it has been concluded that there are more guns in the United States than people. Ask yourself… Does this sound right? 183 shooters between the ages of 20 and 49 have been allowed to take innocent lives with one pull of the trigger and no change has been made. 335 guns have been used to take these innocent lives. I believe that an amendment should be made which implements stringent barriers for those who possess guns. The barriers would include laws such as “the ownership of guns shall be only permitted to those in the armed forces and to people with licenses which have to be renewed as well as people who have been strictly background checked and proven as legal to carry firearms.” Although the banning of gun ownership may cause harm to the American Economy, ask yourself this question. Is money more important than the lives of those around you? Tragedies with firearms have occurred in places such as schools where parents send their children to encourage them to learn the rights and wrongs of the world. To educate their children on morals. To prepare them to leave the nest to achieve greatness in a world where racism, sexism, and violence are prevalent. Do we really want children to fear the thought of going to school? To fear leaving the comfort of their own home in fear of being shot at any moment in time? I certainly don’t and I encourage anyone and everyone to believe in the safety of the people and the unity of the nation. By having such simple gun control policies, we Americans are breaking the core values of the United States. The values in which our founding fathers implemented in hopes of making the United States a united country where everyone is equal and safe. Our children should go to school feeling happy and ready to learn. Not afraid and fearful for their lives. America, it is time to step up and make a change. How many deaths will it take for our government to step up and change? Are 1,102 people not enough? So, President Biden, I should be writing my college essay. Not my will. I should be reading books. No eulogies. It’s time to step up and show that America cares about their children more than their guns.
Written by writer Ilina Kabra