On the 14th of February 2018, a shooter entered a American school with a rifle, leaving 17 dead and 14 injured. This report will focus on the gun laws of America, the people’s responses and how it has been allowed to continue to this point.
The school shooter has been identified as Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old male. After having fired numerous rounds, he reportedly abandoned his weapon and evacuated the facility among the other students. He has since been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
This is just one of many shootings that has taken place within the borders of the United States. According to ABC News, this school shooting is the 18th recorded this year, and the 25th mass shooting.
Following these shootings, many have grown impatient with the lack of change with regards to gun laws, and the frequency in which America is experiencing mass shootings. American gun laws are federal jurisdiction, and are held in high esteem by many American citizens who cherish their 2nd amendment right to bear arms. Many people, both nationally and internationally, have responded with concern over the actions by the American President, Donald Trump, and the ruling government body in not adequately protecting citizens through the enforcement of gun law reformation.
Students, teachers and politicians have pled to Trump and Congress to act and reform America’s gun laws. However, not all parties appear to be of the same opinion, as Florida senator Marco Rubio claims that gun laws couldn’t have prevented the shooting.
Overall, the only solid policy solution to come out of Trump’s recent address was a stronger focus on tackling the difficulties of mental health. This comment comes after Trump reversed Obama’s regulation restricting certain people from legally purchasing firearms. Many feel that this made it easier for unstable people to access the guns used in mass shootings.
Trump has since spoken of enforcing stronger background checks on gun buyers, placing specific focus on their mental health. This has sparked outrage as many want the focus on gun reform and societal changes rather than the mental health and the individual.
Most recently, President Trump has spoken of arming teachers with guns, in order to prevent mass shootings in schools. He implied that this might have prevented shootings, such as that enacted by Cruz in Florida, or at least ending attacks “very quickly.”
This is on par with a local response to this shooting as announced at a press conference by Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel that county deputies, who are qualified to carry a gun, will do so on school campuses.
As a result of these inept responses to the Florida shooting, many of the students who survived, as well as those who survived the previous Orlando Nightclub shooting, went to Washington to demand action on gun reforms.
Washington has since been flooded with protests by citizens and survivors supporting gun law reform, in order to prevent similar atrocities and tragedies from occurring again. Many of these protests have been organized by a newly formed group known as Teens for Gun Reform, where dozens of teenagers lay on the ground outside of the White House on Monday to protest the lack of action on gun control.
Protests have also occurred in Virginia outside the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) headquarters, who are consequently being blamed for the student’s deaths. Some are now calling it a terrorist organization. Recently, the head of the NRA has commented that Democratic elites are just using this mass school shooting to further their political agenda and erode the gun rights protected by the constitution.
Looking at past responses, after the Las Vegas massacre last year, Trump said he was potentially open to banning the sale of bump stocks. An accessory that enabled the shooter to fire more rounds at a time, but we have since seen no action.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “It cannot be denied that something dangerous and unhealthy is happening in our country.”
If we compare America to other countries, the contrast identifies the intense need for gun reform. According to the American Journal of Medicine, there are 10.2 firearm deaths per 100,000 in America, compared to 2.3 for Canada, and 1 for Australia.
In recent years, other countries such as France, Germany and Russia have suffered from mass shootings. However, unlike the U.S., lawmakers in these countries responded. In France, there was a state of emergency declared after the 2015 attacks, which lasted through 5 extensions until 2017. In Germany, automated and semi-automated firearms were banned in response to the 2002 Erfurt massacre.
One truly successful response came from Australia. In 1996, Australia suffered a mass shooting after a man drove his car into a popular tourist area in Port Arthur, Tasmania. He opened fire on those present, killing 35 people. 12 days following this came the National Firearms Agreement, banning the sale of semi-automatic and other military-style weapons for personal defence throughout the country. The Australian federal government has since passed further laws to encourage Australian citizens to give up their weapons.
Countries who acted to reform their gun policies have rarely been involved in mass shootings. When comparing the frequency of shootings in these countries with the rate seen in America, the logical conclusion is that harsher gun laws are needed within the U.S.A..
Even if more restrictions were placed upon the sale of guns to civilians, that would significantly influence the frequency and ability of unstable individuals to participate in a mass shooting. For example, in Russia, licenses are required in order to purchase guns, as are medical certificates.
It is important for those who seek gun law reform to continue to speak up, as it will force action from the government. It should not require yet another atrocity for action to be taken. The people of the United States are using their voice to prompt action from those in charge, by expressing the need for change. Simply put, enough is enough. Small and gradual changes to America’s gun laws can save lives.
The OWP admires the people’s peaceful attempts to entice political action on gun laws. These protests are slowly growing, and the more people that speak out for gun law reform, the more chance action will be taken.