I am afraid to leave my house.
No, I don’t have agoraphobia. I have I’m-terrified-of-a-bullet-blowing-my-brains-out-phobia. And in America today, that isn’t such a wild fear. We have lost the luxury of being able to say “if a shooting ever happens,” because now the conversation now revolves around “when someone starts shooting, here’s what to do.”
Enough is enough. It’s time we talked cold-hard facts about guns and start to work on finding a solution to this epidemic.
It feels like almost every day the news is reporting on yet another mass shooting. Most recently, three individuals were killed at a house party Oct. 29 in Long Beach while celebrating Halloween, another nine were injured.
According to the Congressional Research Service, “A mass murder is four or more victims slain, in one event, in one location.” Often times, the term “mass shooting” or “mass murder” is misused, however, whether on a scale of grandeur or not-there is still an epidemic of gun violence in America.
Since 2013, 350 people have died in mass shootings according to Gun Violence Archive. Mass shootings still have a tendency to grab the attention of the people because no matter how often they seem to occur, the instantaneous and immense loss of life at the hands of a single gunman is something people shouldn’t become comfortable with.
Sandy Hook Elementary School, Pulse Nightclub, Route 91 Harvest Festival, Columbine High. All these places were once unknown, but tragedy forced them onto the national stage and the victims and perpetrators became pawns for political gain.
But mass shootings aren’t the problem.
As of Oct. 30, 2019, there have been 32,448 gun deaths in America. Of those, 19,998 have been suicides. Gun violence is much more than sensationalized news stories of bloodshed and horror, it’s an epidemic that reaches into every corner of the country, into the living rooms of everyday Americans and touches the lives of each and every one of us.
So, let’s talk about guns.
According to a study done by Pew Research, one-third of Americans own a gun. That means that for every 10 people who read this article, three of you own a gun.
Coming out of a violent war with its mother country England, the colonies wanted to ensure that their rights were untouchable—even if that meant taking up arms against their government.
A flintlock musket was the weapon of choice for early colonists, firing one bullet at a time, and three to four bullets per minute in the hands of the most skilled marksman, according to information gathered by the Washington Post.
Today, there are more than 11 million Arma-Lite Rifles in America, according to the National Rifle Association, making it the country’s most popular gun. The average AR-15 has a 30 round magazine and can fire 45 rounds per minute, requiring the user to reload.
That’s a 1125% increase in how many bullets can be fired in 60-seconds from 1791 to 2019.
They’ve also been responsible for the deaths of 216 people since 2012.
Now, it’s unfair to compare something from 200 years ago to today. That would be like comparing the Pony Express to the U.S. Postal Service. However, as technology has made guns more efficient at killing, the laws pertaining to the right to ownership have changed very little.
The Second Amendment’s language has not changed since its original ratification. Laws such as mandated background checks and restrictions for felons have altered the process of buying and owning guns, but for the most part: if you want one, you’re getting one.
A trope often used by the pro-gun community is that gun laws won’t work because “if bad guys want guns, they’re going to get them.” And you know what? They’re absolutely right.
But last time I checked, there are no gun trees. No groves where you can go picking for guns on a beautiful fall day. Guns come from somewhere, and as shown in a 2016 study done by the Bureau of Justice, the sources are as varied as the crimes the guns were used for.
Although most illegal firearms are obtained from what is referred to as the “underground” or “black market,” 10.1% were purchased from legitimate sources. Of that, 7.5% were purchased at gun shows.
Even more shocking, 25.3% of illegally obtained guns came from family members. So yes, if criminals want guns, they’re going to get them, but the problem isn’t them: it’s who they’re getting them from.
As mentioned before, mass shootings, although tantalizing, are not the main source of gun violence and deaths in America.
This epidemic has to end. Preserving human life should circumvent anyone’s desire to own a gun, constitutional right or not. The negative impact that guns have had and continue to have on the quality of life and safety of Americans cannot be ignored.
Whether it be gun buybacks, the ceasing of sales of firearms or self-surrender, the excessive amount of guns needs to be addressed.
The time is now to put aside arbitrary-partisan feelings. But until that time comes, remember to identify your exits, report suspicious behavior, and if you hear gunshots: you’re in America.