By Sam Carlomagno
It has only been a few months and already we’ve had a staggeringly high number of mass shootings in 2018. A number of people have died, with so many of them being children that I no longer flinch or gasp when I get that CNN notification. After Sandy Hook, the Pulse nightclub shooting and the Las Vegas massacre, it’s no longer shocking.
So where is the problem? Is it the people that commit the crimes? Yes, without a doubt. But there is an even larger issue, and that issue is the guns. AR-15s seem to be the weapon of choice for shooters these days—guns that are perfectly legal for the average person to purchase.
An AR-15 was used in the most recent school shooting by the gunman, Nikolas Cruz. He is responsible for the death of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. He went in with clear intentions, training from a white supremacist group, and killed 14 students and three faculty members.
The worst thing about all this? He was legally able to purchase the guns he used, even though he had shown clear signs of being a possible danger to others. He had been expelled from the very same high school at which he committed the shooting, reports say he’d been abusive to his ex-girlfriend, and police have been called to his home multiple times in the past. Cruz was clearly a disturbed individual, and this shooting could have been prevented.
Yet, he was able to buy an AR-15.
NBC News reported that these weapons are semi-automatic—they fire 3,251 feet per second and are able to deliver 1,300-foot-pounds of kinetic energy. Basically, if someone is in the pathway of one of these bullets, their flesh is all but obliterated from the impact. These guns are the civilian version of an M16 (which is a fully automatic rifle) and designed to cause pain and suffering. As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, back in June 2016, it only took columnist Helen Ubiñas seven minutes to buy an AR-15 from a licensed gun shop.
The US Constitution says that we, as United States citizens, have the right to bear arms. The NRA uses this as their biggest fight in Congress (as well as millions of dollars donated to members of Congress, the LA Times reported) so that they may keep their rights.
Here’s the thing, the founding fathers had no idea where guns would be in 2018. They didn’t know that these weapons would end up having so much power and would become the preferred weapons of mass shooters. If they could see the state America has become, do you really think that they would let the general public be able to access these kinds of weapons?
Yes, it’s a person that committed these crimes. It’s a person that made the conscious decision to go to that school, to kill people, the same as every other mass shooting that has happened in America. Guns have only made it so much easier.
The Gun Violence Archive gathers statistics of anything that involves some form of a gun. In 2017, there were over 60,000 gun-related incidents in the US and over 15,000 of those resulted in death, over 2,000 of those gun related shootings were unintentional and over 700 of those injured or killed were children between the ages of 0-11. These numbers are huge and terrifying.
What we need is regulation on these weapons. Automatic and semiautomatics, as well as modifiers that can make a firearm automatic, shouldn’t be legally sold to the general public. They should be reserved for the military and law enforcement. Other weapons should be illegal for those with a violent past or an extreme mental illness to be able to gain access to.
I’ve heard people making the argument for arming teachers. We should not arm teachers, as this would be asking them to go up against gunmen. Teachers have families too; how can we ask them to put themselves in danger when deputies are even afraid to go into a school to stop a shooter? What we need is gun regulation, not more guns.
Sending out thoughts and prayers to people is doing nothing. Something has to be done to make this all stop. We need to make the pain end and keep people alive. Praying for someone after they’ve died is all well and good, but if nothing is done to prevent it from happening again, then it is seen as blatant disregard for the lives lost.
What we need to keep in mind is that the NRA is not the Second Amendment.