By Kyra Dates
Think about how many times the United States has ignored gun policy change after innocent people are killed. Horrible acts of terrorism have become commonplace, as there have been 273 mass shootings in the U.S. to date in 2017. In the aftermath of these tragic events, phrases such as “Taking away guns won’t fix anything,” and “We shouldn’t let this turn political,” are uttered to avoid the topic that actually needs to be discussed most—gun control. People frequently speak of prayer, but speaking of policy change is crucial too. It is unfair to the victims of these killings if we do not work to prevent future acts of gun violence.
Other western countries are doing this work. After a mass shooting in 1996 left 35 dead and many others injured, Australia passed the National Firearms agreement. This legislation outlawed, amongst other things, many semi-automatic guns; made the process to buy a gun much stricter; and bought back and destroyed illegal guns in the citizens’ possessions. Since the passage of this law in 1996, Australia has had no mass shootings. Citizens cannot continue to use the excuse that gun control will not solve anything when other countries have proved it to be successful.
The U.S. needs to make changes in our laws and legislation and continue to readjust those changes until gun-control regulations are successful. The U.S. is one of the most advanced countries in the world, yet focuses more on whether or not a National Football League player stands or kneels during the national anthem than whether or not innocent lives are taken by gun violence. It is disappointing that the current politicians who run the U.S. government care more about the right to bear arms than the right to freedom of speech and expression. The right to bear arms was established when weapons were an entirely different mechanism that was much less life-threatening than the automatic-and semi-automatic weapons owned by citizens today. Many pro-gun citizens argue that taking away guns limits the country’s democracy. Yet, many of these same citizens want a rule in which athletes are required to stand for the National Anthem.
To take away freedom of speech and expression turns democracy to fascism much quicker than the withdrawal of guns ever could. Gun control should not even be seen as an issue of citizen freedom. Freedom of speech instead considers the issue of whether or not citizens should be allow to kill innocent people. The freedom of speech should never be compared to a citizen’s right to possess an item that can kill over 50 people in one night. If that is so, then the rights of citizens to enjoy their lives without fear is lost. It is time for our country to move forward.
Recent threats of violence at our own high school have made it apparent that America’s youth has learned the hate spread by older generations. With all of the gun-violence publicized, teenagers and children may begin to think that shootings are a way to solve problems. Without the creation of laws and legislation, there is no way to stop the repetition of past violence with younger groups of people. This hateful cycle must stop here and now before we destroy our nation.