Abbey Marshall | Managing Editor
Reports of the two journalists who fell victim to a shooting in Virginia on August 26 littered social media and news platforms. Shocked teenagers tweeted, “People in this world are sick”, reporters delved into the shooter’s past and exposed his unstable mental history, while concerned U.S. citizens posted statuses with condolences to the victims’ families.
Then, like every other case, it vanished in a matter of days. People returned to their daily lives, relatively unaffected by the deaths of two random people. Why is it that with every despicable act that occurs in our country we care for about two seconds to express our grief, only to return to the same routines we’ve always known?
As creatures of habit, it’s hard for us to make a change, but it’s apparent that current gun regulations aren’t working. Since 1968, more Americans have been slain by a firearm than casualties of all wars in U.S. history, according to PBS commentator Mark Shields. This is just an example of the growing rate of dangers that guns pose to American citizens. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof notes that the Occupational Health and Safety Administration created a seven page document regulating ladder safety, which only results in 300 deaths per year in the United States, yet there is little restriction on guns, which account for 33,000 American deaths annually.
If the American government can impose traffic laws and car regulations, which also account for a majority of deaths, then why can’t the same be done for guns? Don’t get me wrong–I’m not saying we should redact the second amendment by any means. Americans should have the option to own a gun if they choose to do so, whether it be for hunting, protection of property or self: whatever it may be. I do not believe, however, that any citizen should be able to legally purchase a semi-automatic assault weapon. In no scenario do I see a gun like that being used for good. Weapons of mass destruction are just that–there is no reason to own a machine gun or assault rifle for hunting or recreation. Especially with the lack of extensive background checks and mental examinations prior to gun purchase, you never know who will go slaughter unknowing citizens. It will continue happening until we minimize threats by these weapons. How many Americans need to die for us to break our apathetic cycle and actually do something?
Although there will always be evil people in this world with evil intentions, there is a way to reduce their impact. Imagine if the government could eliminate even one-third the annual deaths to 22,000 instead of 33,000 using background checks and limitations of what guns may be legally purchased. What if it was even more than that? We could live in a country where we wouldn’t have to fear going to a movie theater, or a church, or a mall, or a university, or even our own job. So sure, the second amendment is in the Constitution, but so is the pursuit of life, which is what we should be focused on preserving.
Originally published on thecspn.com on September 18, 2015.