Gun control has been a topic that has been debated about for years, the topic is being highlighted again due to the recent Parkland shooting. For this article i will be focusing on mass shootings occurring in school. There have been various discussions about gun violence, and debates about what we should do about this issue: an guns altogether; psychological evaluations; more advocating for bullying prevention and awareness. The situation is complex.
There are some people thinking “how the hell is it complex?, either you agree that it’s a problem and want to fix it, or you don’t”. I will be discussing how we should first discuss solutions more openly, and educate ourselves on these solutions before we advocate for one.
However I think before we start advocating laws, we should focus needs on educating ourselves on the gun violence/mass shooting subject which include the black market for guns, mental health and bullying.
Some people expressed on social media that guns should be banned altogether in the U.S. In theory this would be a great idea but, it’s not realistic. For starters it violates our second amendment which states “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The second reason is that guns are also located in the black market.
First we need to do some research on the black market for guns. The legal way to obtain a firearm is by going to a licensed gun dealer, with a drivers license or state ID, and purchasing a firearm from them. But, the reality is that not everyone purchases their guns legally. According to a article published on PBS website titled “hot guns: How Criminals Get Guns” an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agent said in terms of accessing guns through the black market, most of the time they are obtained in a process called “straw purchases.” These purchases involve having someone who can legally purchase a firearm, buy one on their behalf (the person who can’t obtain a firearms legally). Sometimes if those guns end up in a crime scene, the person who legally purchased it will cover their tracks and say it was stolen.
Now one thing we need to remember is that gun laws vary from state to state, and the minimum age requirement is 18.
According to “Inside the Black Market for Guns” published on Forbes, two ATF agents discussed how Federal Firearms Licensed Dealers (FFL) track guns stolen from gun stores and pawn shops.
The next step is that we need to become more acquainted with mental health, and how it relates to gun violence in schools. I believe that mental health and background checks in general should be mandatory before someone can legally purchase/ possess a gun. According to a 2016 research report published by CQ Researcher “40 percent of states don’t do background checks on gun purchasers”. (It wasn’t clear if mental health checks were included in this). I want to make it known that not everyone with mental illness are potential murderers. But, some people who commit mass murder have been known to have mental illness. For example in the Slate article titled “At least We know why the Columbine killers did it”. They described one of the shooters (Eric Harris) as a “psychopath.”
According to “Mental Health Reporting” an article by Giffords Law Center. The Brady Act requires licensed dealers to request background checks prior to transfer of a firearm”. These background checks are performed by NICS (FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System). The NICS uses four databases. “Two of those databases contain information about a person who was denied for possessing a firearm due to having a mental health or developmental disability.”
However the loophole here is that the federal law doesn’t require states to give information about an individual’s mental health in the NICS. On the FBI’s website titled “About NICS” it states: “Each state decides whether the FFL’s in its state call a state Point Of Contact or the FBI to initiate firearm background checks.
Another suggestion for decreasing gun violence is having metal detectors in schools. If we invest in metal detectors in schools then we should have them in all schools, not just in the schools located in the inner city. Most school shootings occur in schools outside of the inner cities. According to Pew Research Center guns can be found in 41 percent of households in the suburbs, and 58 percent in rural areas. Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Parkland, etc.
This issue isn’t an easy fix. We will have to be willing to listen to different people’s perspectives and seek out credible sources. Credible resources include the Pew Research Center. You can access these sites from just a simple Google search. You can also go to our campus website under Student Services, clicking Library and then clicking the link “MCTC Library”. On the left side click “Find Resources” and from there you could pick the kind of source you are looking for. You could access books, videos, peer-reviewed articles, reference articles/websites etc.
We should also educate ourselves on the differences between state and federal gun laws; gun possession laws; mental health; and the black market for guns. Also, we need to be more honest with these discussions. We have to admit that the United States has a gun violence issue, and that as a society violence is advocated for solutions.
In an article published by the Tampa Times titled “Democrats demand assault weapons ban; Republicans call it ‘politically motivated'”.
Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon, stated “So long as assault rifles like the AR-15 are legally sold in the state, so long as they are not banned, their threat to civilians will remain in every school, every mall, every movie theater, every nightclub, and in every place the public gathers.”
Lastly, we also have to start instilling in our children what bullying is, and to not do it. Explain how bullying can have mental health effects such as low self-esteem, depression, suicidal thoughts, etc. However not everyone who perpetuates or has been victims of school gun violence was a victim of bullying. Nonetheless, we need to start teaching these things from about age four or five, that way we are teaching them these things at the age that they are starting to interact with other people around their age.
We can begin by making sure children grow up in healthy and loving households and teach them from an early age about what bullying is and to not do it, and the effects bullying can have on a person. Giving someone a compliment might be enough to make someone’s day by boosting their self-confidence. Knowing what mental, physical and verbal abuse is and preventing from practicing these kinds of abuse on children. Also preventing from neglecting our children, is another thing we need to avoid.
We have to get better as a society when it comes to these issues and these are some steps we should take to begin. The issue isn’t going to be fixed overnight or will be fixed in it’s entirety, but we can get start decreasing the amount of school shootings that take place if we educate ourselves about these subjects, and encourage more positive behavior and dialogue with each other.