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The controversial topic of gun control has been a front and center issue for many years, most recently hitting the front page after the fatal shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. This event was particularly striking—going viral on social media, being posted multiple times on various news outlets, inspiring thousands of protests across the country and even globally—due to the fact that the students that had been affected by the shooting were very outspoken about their opinions. These young teenagers demanded justice—in their point of view, this justice could be given by prompt actions with gun control.
Of course, this matter can be seen from two sides. There is the pro-gun side, and there is the pro-gun control side. Many of the individuals on the pro-gun side argue that the multiple mass shootings are not due to a lack of gun control. Instead, some of them believe that it is for the problem of the lack of mental health awareness in the United States. They take the argument, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” and run with it in the literal sense.
Take, for example, the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999. The two perpetrators, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, killed more than a dozen of their classmates and teachers before then killing themselves. Nothing was done in terms of gun control after the matter. Instead, the focus was on the mental health of the two adolescents who had a liking towards Hitler and other things of the dark element. Although, yes, this was an obvious issue with mental health, the two boys should never have been able to get their hands on multiple military grade rifles so easily.
Some of the conservatives on the pro-gun side also believe that the pro-gun control activists are trying to take away their constitutional rights. Perhaps, in a way, they may be right in this case. Many activists have spoken openly about abolishing the second amendment, or even simply rewriting it. This has caused an outrage amongst the traditionalists in our society. They find it an abomination to even think about taking away what was originally written by the United States of America’s Founding Fathers in 1789. Never mind the fact that one of their beloved Founding Fathers himself, Thomas Jefferson, believed that the constitution should be rewritten every 19 years.
Many may argue that, since guns are a constitutional right, every citizen must have them for protection. What if a burglar breaks into your home? What if your significant other becomes abusive and you must defend yourself? This second argument has been used, specifically, for women. The NRA has used this exact vindication as a lame attempt to keep their hands on their guns. But, nonetheless, a recent study has debunked this theory.
“The Violence Policy Center looked at FBI crime data from 2015, the most recent year available. It’s the first analysis of the 2015 data on female homicide victims. The study found there were 328 justifiable homicides committed by private citizens that year, and only 16 involved a woman killing a man with a gun. Conversely, there were 1,686 cases where a woman was murdered by a man with a gun. Those are only single-victim, single-offender incidents, and exclude mass shootings, so if anything it’s an undercount… a vast majority of those 1,686 homicides were domestic in nature. 93 percent of the female victims were murdered by a man they knew, and 64 percent were wives or “intimate acquaintances” of the man that killed them. (This does not include ex-girlfriends; the FBI does not break that down.)” (Zornick, 2017)
There may be a couple of good reasons to not have harsher laws with gun control, but there are plenty of better reasons to crack down on gun laws.
“The US makes up less than five percent of the world’s population, but holds 31 percent of global mass shooters. Gun homicide rates are 25.2 times higher in the US than in other high-income countries. The US has one of the highest rates of death by firearm in the developed world, according to World Health Organization data.” (Fox, 2018)
By this point in time, the NRA is simply making excuses to keep their hands on their guns and their money. Although children everywhere may be dying due to the insane amount of mass shootings happening yearly—this year reaching over 300—the guns are supposedly not the real issue here. Pro-gun influencers argue that if guns are not allowed, terrorists attacking schools will simply find another way to harm their victims. The example of knives is most commonly used in this rebuttal.
Let’s take a look at what actually happens in the situation of a terrorist carrying a knife instead of a gun. In early 2018, a man armed with knives invaded a high school campus in the Netherlands. This country is known to have strict gun laws, where they claim that, “Gun ownership is seen not as a right, but a privilege, with hunting and target shooting as a sport the only two legitimate reasons for owning a gun.” (Foster, 2017)
The students on campus immediately noticed the suspect and attacked him on sight. A large group of teenagers surrounded him and began to throw their heavy, book-filled backpacks at him, causing him to stumble and fall. He pulled his knife out on these kids, and witnesses said that he screamed at them, “Go away, otherwise I will stab you.” (Cleary, 2018) These courageous pupils, however, refused to back down. Together, they chased the perpetrator off campus, and he was promptly caught and arrested by police. He was then placed in the hospital, where mental help was sought for him. There were no fatalities nor any injuries whatsoever.
This incident quickly went viral on social media, specifically Twitter, as it caused outrage amongst Americans. A Dutch video game developer who used to attend this high school, Rami Ismail, tweeted with irony as he pointed out the flaws in America’s system by discreetly coming at them with a side jab.
“A 44-year-old man with severe mental issues attacked my former high school in the Netherlands today. Since he did not have access to guns, he brought knives, and was scared away by students throwing their backpacks at him. The man and students are now all getting help as needed. I have no data on whether the man plays violent video games, as of yet the Dutch government has not called to arm all our teachers or give them tactical combat training, and the National Backpack Association has not made a statement, although admittedly I'm not sure it exists.”
This case clearly proves the fact that, with stricter gun laws that are actually enforced, America’s grand problem with mass shootings may not be so much of a problem anymore. The fact of the matter is, there will always be the bad guy with a gun and the good guy with a gun. Ultimately, to get rid of the armed bad guy, we must also get rid of the armed good guy. We must have simply good and bad, and lay our weapons down, for the sake of all the children who are dying everyday and fear for their lives the moment they walk into their school building. As the Dutch believe, owning a gun should not be a right—it should be a privilege. And it’s about time the United States starts treating it as such.