Gun control alone is not enough to stop violence

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I’m sure by now everyone has heard about the disastrous shooting in Las Vegas at a country music festival on Oct. 1. With 59 dead and over 500 wounded, it was the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. It seems every few weeks, we wake up and hear of a new senseless tragedy that occurred overnight, and it’s terrible.

According to BBC, there were 372 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2015. That’s more than one per day. While some clearly are worse than others, that doesn’t mean they should be ignored. It is not normal, and it is not acceptable.

It also seems that most politicians don’t truly want to do anything either; rather, they use these acts of violence to push their agendas. With the right, it’s, “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun!” or, “It’s a mental health issue!”while they continue to deny people mental health care and accept millions of dollars from the NRA. While the NRA does teach classes in gun safety, they’re still ultimately just another political organization with an agenda.

With the left, it’s “Gun control NOW!” I agree, we definitely need measures taken in gun control, but there’s also other sociological factors at play as well.

Had I been asked two years ago about this topic, I would have said gun control is the only way to solve the problem. However, I now feel that, on top of that, we must do more as well. The Michael Moore film “Bowling For Columbine” was a big factor in my more developed view.

One of the incidents in this film was a young boy who brought a gun to school and shot a classmate. In the situation, he had a single mother who had to take a bus out of town early in the morning to work for part of a government program for the impoverished. The mother and son lived with the boy’s uncle, and the boy got ahold of his uncle’s gun and brought it to school.

It doesn’t seem that a child that young could be capable of such evil, but when left to his own devices so often, who knows what can happen? Had the boy’s mother been able to find a job nearby, she may have been able to prevent him from getting ahold of his uncle’s gun.

According to The Atlantic, the U.S. has the highest rate of gun violence of any other developed nation. For starters, it is legal for civilians to own semi-automatic assault weapons and military- style rifles. There is absolutely no reason for the average citizen to have such powerful weapons. They aren’t necessary for hunters, and there’s no need for them if you just go shooting for the fun of it.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibited the sale of firearms to minors, people with criminal records, dishonorably discharged military members, the mentally handicapped and illegal immigrants.

These laws are sensible but are often not enforced strictly enough, especially in private gun sales or at gun shows. There’s also the factor that many people with mental illness go undiagnosed, so their record may make it seem perfectly safe to own a gun when in reality they are a danger to themselves and others. Over half of gun deaths are by suicide, so it’s idiotic to say mental health isn’t an issue.

If we compare our gun laws to countries like Canada or Australia, we might be able to find a better solution to the problem. For example, in Canada, all gun owners need a background check and a gun safety course. There are also three classifications of guns there: non restricted (standard rifles and shotguns), restricted (handguns and semi-automatic weapons) and prohibited (automatics). Anyone who wants a restricted gun must get federal registration. In Australia, all automatic and semi-automatic guns are banned, and when the ban was issued, the government instituted a buyback program so that people who owned these weapons were compensated for them. Since creating these laws, there have been no gun-related mass shootings in Australia.

Many people see a need to own a gun to defend themselves, which I completely understand. However, if we work to lower our crime rates, less people will feel the need to own a gun in the first place. Japan has very low crime rates, and as a result, most citizens don’t feel they need a gun. Crime rates can also be traced back to poverty, as I mentioned earlier. Many people commit crimes because they are poor and need to steal to live, or need to do drugs to escape suffering in their daily lives. If we can better help our fellow humans, the world will be a much better place.

To sum it up, our gun violence problem can be solved by not only stricter gun laws but also handling issues like poverty, mental illness and crime rates. All we really need to do is take a look at other countries and have some common sense and empathy.