Trigger warning: This article discusses mass shootings, gun violence and briefly mentions suicide. Visit this page for resources and support.
“The Second Amendment is becoming a suicide pact,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom following the Monterey Park shooting on Jan. 21.
On the eve of Lunar New Year, a man identified as Huu Can Tran opened fire on a Monterey Park dance studio, killing 11 and injuring 9 people. Monterey Park is a primarily Asian American community in Los Angeles, an area familiar to some Chinese-American students at The Beach.
Tran’s weapon was obtained illegally, but a majority of U.S. mass shooters have used legally obtained firearms.
From 1966 to 2019, 77 percent of mass shooters obtained the weapons they used in their crimes through legal purchases, according to the New York Times.
The Monterey Park shooting has not only left communities grieving, but also in fear of their safety. After another tragic addition to the growing list of gun violence incidents in America, the door has once again opened for a discussion about what’s wrong with U.S. gun laws. There is a need for gun safety awareness and policy change.
One of the largest gun loopholes in America allows private sellers to circumvent background check laws.
According to EveryTown For Gun Safety, while federal law requires background checks for all gun sales by licensed gun dealers, it does not require background checks for guns sold by unlicensed sellers, like non-dealers who sell guns online or at gun shows.
Through this loophole, people who should not have a gun are able to acquire one. This includes those with a history of domestic abuse, felonies, or any other criminal record that would prohibit the possession of a gun.
There are many loopholes making it easier to purchase guns in the U.S. The Boyfriend Loophole allows some domestic abusers to acquire guns. The Charleston Loophole allows individuals to receive a gun three days after their purchase, even with an incomplete background check.
These legal loopholes and others like them only facilitate the process of acquiring a gun and increase the struggle with gun violence.
California is known for having strict gun laws to combat gun violence. However, these laws have been jeopardized by Supreme Court decisions. One example of this is the Court’s decision to rule against the California ban on high-capacity magazines.
For now, the government is not listening to its people, so it’s time for another approach. One way to reduce gun violence is raising awareness and keeping people informed.
The simplest way to raise awareness is the promotion of gun safety tips through ads and the media.
The gun safety movement can take inspiration from the anti-smoking movement. Many anti-smoking campaigns have shown a visual comparison between healthy lungs and smoker lungs, displaying the images on Billboards and other advertisements. Anti-smoking campaigns like these have been proven to be effective.
According to a study cited by Time, people living with handgun owners were seven times more likely to be shot by their spouse or intimate partner. Gun ownership is also linked to an increased risk for suicide.
Men who own handguns are eight times more likely to die of gun suicides than men who don’t own handguns, and women who own handguns are 35 times more likely than women who don’t, according to Stanford Medicine.
Through larger campaigns and community dialogue, people can inform one another on how to store guns in order to keep them away from children or others who should not have gun access.
More conversations need to be had about how harmful guns can be. Due to the ongoing struggle with mass shootings and other gun violence in the U.S, it is important to start understanding guns as something that can cost people’s lives.
Talking about gun violence should not be taboo. If there are more open discussions about gun safety awareness and the severe effects of guns, there will be greater change to gun violence in America.