COMMENTARY: Stricter gun laws would keep America safe

The recent events in Parkland, Florida have sparked up the age-old gun control debate once again. Some want to keep gun laws as they are while others would like the process of obtaining a firearm to be more difficult or banned altogether.

On Feb. 14, the students and teachers of Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida found themselves staring down the barrel of an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. The weapon was held by former student, Nikolas Cruz. Cruz legally obtained the firearm used, which begs the question, how could someone like that have been allowed to purchase a weapon of such caliber so easily.

Zach Trabaudo

The United States, while only accounting for 5 percent of the world’s population, holds 31 percent of the world’s mass shooters. Since the 2012 shooting on Sandy Hook Elementary, there have been 1,607 mass shootings (event where four or more people are shot) in the U.S., resulting in 1,846 people killed and 6,459 wounded, according to VOX News.

This is no coincidence, while we may say “never again” or “how could we have let this happen” the truth is gun laws in America have been overlooked for generations and there is no sign of them getting any better.

Yes, this may be a constitutional right to bear arms, but to what extent? The process to obtain a firearm is weak. While recent years have brought about the banning of a bump stock and slightly improved background checks, the real problem continues to be overlooked. There needs to be stricter and more thorough gun laws or else the USA will continue down this destructive path.

Propositions have come in saying there will be armed guards at schools and teachers and administrators with firearms in the classroom. Fighting fire with fire is not the smart way to go about this when you can just eliminate the fire as a whole.

While pro-gun advocates may argue that people do the killing and not guns, they are misinformed.

According to the FBI Homicide data table, 70 percent of all homicides from the year 2012 through 2016 were committed using a firearm. Citizens of the United States also like to place the blame on “mental illness”, but this is a false accusation and categorization of mass shooters. A 2015 analysis from Michael Stone at Columbia University shows that out of 235 recognized mass shooters only 52 of them, or 22 percent, suffered from a mental illness.

While it may seem impossible, the United States is not the only country to experience a dilemma like this. Other countries such as Australia and Japan have enforced stricter gun laws and been successful. Japan has one of the lowest gun crime rates with just six gun deaths in 2014, according to BBC news.

Only after a lengthy and rigorous licensing procedure (which must be repeated every three years) may a citizen possess a firearm for hunting and sport only. If a weapon is kept in your home you must keep the firearm and ammo separate and locked and you are subject to yearly checks by police, according to Vox News.

Australia tweaked their gun laws after a shooting at a cafe in 1996. Lawmakers responded with a mandatory buy-back program in which the government would buy back certain weapons, such as semiautomatic and automatic rifles and shotguns. According to Harvard researchers, the firearm homicide rate dropped by about 42 percent and its firearm suicide rate fell by 57 percent.

As we can see, it is not impossible to restrict gun laws and as a student myself looking at the events in Parkland and hearing the students speak, it makes you wonder: What is stopping my school, or any school in Delaware for that matter, from being the next victim?

Zach Trabaudo is a senior at Polytech High School.

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