17 dead in Parkland, Florida. 3 adults and 14 teens, killed by an ex-student. Young, eager teens, with their whole life ahead of them, dead before it even began. This seems all too familiar to the United States, as there have been over 1624 mass shootings in less than 200 days. Even more alarming is the fact that in the 37 days since the shooting in Parkland, 73 teens have lost their lives due to a gun. Lawmakers are scrambling to decide on gun laws that would make it harder for teens to buy guns, which could potentially prevent another Parkland. However, it may not be as black and white as it sounds. The heated debate over gun control has once again taken the United States by storm, and it seems inevitable for some type of decision to be made on this issue. However, countless fatal shootings preceding the Parkland shooting have sparked the issue, only to flare out a couple months later.
The Parkland movement does feel different, though, largely because the teen survivors of the Florida shooting have commanded the national stage with unfiltered emotions and raw ambition. Their first-hand accounts of gun violence have ignited the world, with instant effects. For instance, the widely popular sporting-goods chain, “Dick’s” announced that it would no longer carry assault-style rifles or high-capacity magazines, and would not sell guns to people under the age of twenty-one. While it may not seem like a tremendous change in terms of the sales, it certainly was a huge statement, confirming the impact of the Parkland protests. However, to any valid debate, there are two heavily-contested sides to the gun control.
The debate against gun control is often summarized by the phrase, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. The argument is that the mass shootings occur due to people’s aggravations. In other words, shooters who commit these crimes are usually mentally unstable or crazy, at least according to the anti-gun control supporters.
One frequent argument for not having gun restrictions is that by outlawing guns, the only guns left on the street will be illegal. We can’t stop murderers from getting guns. If they are willing to use those guns to kill, then they certainly won’t mind breaking the law and acquiring illegal guns. However, law-abiding citizens will not possess guns, and will therefore be defenceless against criminals.
Another immensely popular argument against gun control is the protection of the 2nd Amendment. For those who are unaware, the U.S. Constitution consists of numerous amendments, or changes. Among those amendments is the right to bear firearms, which is known as the 2nd Amendment. The amendment legally gives citizens of the United States to carry guns with them for protection. This is practically the most valid argument for the anti-gun control side, as outlawing guns means repealing the 2nd Amendment, which is extremely difficult to do. For an amendment to be repealed, it has to be repealed by a new amendment. So to repeal the 2nd amendment, there would have to be another amendment. The amendment would require three-fourths of the U.S. states to agree to it. That is roughly around 38 (out of 50) states that need to vote for the removal of the 2nd Amendment. It is practically impossible that 38 states would vote to outlaw guns, which leaves just one option to gun control supporters: Laws that limit guns.
The pro-gun control protest is fuelled by many arguments, many of which pertain to the philosophy that guns DO in fact kill people. For example, many often refer to the strict gun control laws in Great Britain or Australia, and compare the gun deaths there to the gun deaths in the U.S. If you combine the populations of Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and Australia, you'll get a population roughly the size of the United States. The U.S had 30,000 gun deaths last year, while the other countries had 112 combined. These types of statistics are very useful to sway the majority of the people, which help draw more light to the issue of gun control. Pro-gun control supporters also advocate for limiting the type of guns that reach the eventual criminals, and increasing the age bar to legally purchase guns. These supporters say that no single person needs to have more than a handgun to protect themselves. The gun used in the Parkland shooting was an AR-15, which is an automated rifle. The pro-gun control crowd says that AR-15 should not be on the streets of America, as there is no need for such a powerful weapon.
While the debate over gun control has certainly gained momentum in light of recent mass shootings, any major law change is yet to follow. However, the delay is only fuelling the protests that are shaking the United States, forcing the lawmakers to acquiesce quickly on some kind of decision. If the recent Parkland protests are a sign of anything to come, then we can safely anticipate change, in some way, shape, or form. After all, no family member can stay indifferent to this issue after the death of a loved one at the hands of a gun.
By: Ankit Shrivastava