Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
September 24, 2020

What will it take to strengthen gun control?

By SAM MOLLIN | February 22, 2018

Courtesy of the Obama White House Archives For many, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was the last straw in the gun control debate.

What else is there to say about guns? In 1999, 12 students were fatally shot in Columbine High School. There were protests, rallies and calls for gun control. Nothing happened. That year concluded a decade in which 64 schools experienced shootings and 85 students were killed. In the next 10 years, the nation grieved over 60 school shootings. 

Since 2010, we’ve faced 146 school shootings, and around 240 people’s lives have been ended by gun violence in the places where they were supposed to learn how to live. After all these shootings, Congress has done nothing. After 20 second graders were killed in an elementary school, Republicans still refused to pass even the mildest form of gun control to make sure that a tragedy like that would never happen again.

Now we’re back to square one. There’s been another school shooting. Movements are starting, and a bleeding nation calls for gun control once again. This time 97 percent of Americans support universal background checks! 

But we already know how this story will end. Any sort of legislation will die in the halls of Congress. Republicans, initially receptive to reform, will hear from their NRA overlords and shift the blame to some other cause or claim that if we just militarize our teachers, we’ll be safe.

It’s time for us to start being honest with ourselves. Any Republican or Democrat opposed to gun control no longer represents us. Anyone who seriously believes that Donald Trump or Mitch McConnell care about people’s lives are deluding themselves. These two men have had their chances. After Las Vegas or Orlando or Sandy Hook or Parkville or any other time our civilians have been slaughtered in the street, they had their chance to do something. 

Someone who says they care is lying through their teeth if they don’t do anything to back up their sentiment. The time for political courage has long since passed. The time for forsaking organizations whose sole goal is to get rid of any sort of restrictions on guns was six years ago, when children who hadn’t even had the chance to live their lives had to pay the ultimate price for the GOP’s servitude to the NRA. 

I know that writing this won’t do anything. I know that no matter what we say or do, the GOP will sit back on their inaction while our nation’s children continue to bleed. But we have to try. We have to scream into the uncaring void that is our current administration because if we don’t, who are we? If we don’t draw the line at our nation’s future being shot through the head with a bullet, then what do we stand for? 

No one is trying to take away your guns, nor will they. No one wants to take away your rights or privileges. The fact is, if we don’t have national gun control laws, then we have nothing. If someone can buy a gun with virtually no restrictions in Indiana, then what the hell is going to stop that gun from getting to Illinois? People can have guns illegally in some areas because they’re so easy to get in others, where possession is legal. 

The day will come when we’ll have a government that understands what we have to do. We can have a truly universal background check system, to ensure that no person who shouldn’t have a gun has one. We can mandate that parents keep their guns safe and locked away so that their children can’t use them to kill others or themselves. 

We can incentivize every state to make sure that you can only have a gun with a license and that you can only get a license with training. Lastly, we can make sure that guns have safety features like biometric locks to make sure that the only people who can use guns are their legal owners.

Our society does not have to be a society where guns are restricted. Our society can be one where guns are owned responsibly. If the NRA-bought Republican party gets off its ass and does something, then they can make sure that the rights they so cherish won’t be opposed by most of American society. 

The ideas we need to solve our gun crisis already exist. So when they don’t happen, when Republicans say there’s nothing to be done, just remember that there are common sense solutions out there that they refuse to implement because they are too afraid of their donors. Maybe one day we can have a government that understands. Until then, keep fighting.

Sam Mollin is a freshman political science major from Mamaroneck, N.Y.

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