Gun violence, especially mass shootings, have become ever more prevalent in American society.
The deadliest mass shooting in American history recently took place on Oct. 1, 2017, killing 58 people and injuring almost 500.
The second deadliest mass shooting took place on June 12th, 2016, at Pulse nightclub, killing 49 people, and injuring more than 50 people.
When Americans think of mass shootings, it is likely that the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting comes to mind. This massacre killed 20 children and seven adults.
The two most recent and deadliest massacres were only 16 months apart, and their fatalities were nearly double that of Sandy Hook.
According to The New York Times, the Pulse nightclub gunman used at least two guns, while the Las Vegas gunman used twelve rifles modified with bump stocks, devices that replace a rifle’s standard stock, allowing the weapon to fire almost as fast as a machine gun by harnessing the gun’s kickback.
In total, the Las Vegas gunman had 47 guns, 23 of which were in the hotel room he fired from.
On Thursday, the NRA announced their support for tighter restrictions on bump stocks, contrasting their usual support of fewer gun restrictions.
While these restrictions may be beneficial, it is not a foolproof answer, as bump stocks can easily be made with online instructions.
Consider the fact that the two deadliest mass shootings in American history have happened in the last 16 months. Clearly, something needs to be fixed.
After every mass shooting, it seems that arguments for and against gun control are present.
In 1996, 35 people were killed in Port Arthur, Australia, an event that came to be known as the Port Arthur massacre. A matter of weeks later, Australia made massive changes to their gun laws.
These changes included: bans on semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, more hurdles for potential gun owners, a 28-day waiting period for background checks and the need for a “justifiable reason”, according to BBC, to own a gun, which does not include self-protection.
These laws have decreased mass shootings to zero from eleven in the decade before 1996.
Furthermore, according to a study done by Philip Alpers, a professor at Sydney School of Public Health, 69 gun-related homicides were recorded in 1996, whereas only 30 were recorded in 2012.These laws, however, do not completely prevent gun violence in Australia.
Over the years, outlawed guns have been replaced with legal ones, and in the first national amnesty since Port Arthur, unregistered guns were returned to the public.
Gun advocates would argue that the Second Amendment protects the people’s rights to bear arms.
Another argument is the ever-growing “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
While neither of these arguments are necessarily unsound, they do raise the question of how we, as American people, should proceed.
Do we ban all guns?
Do we follow Australia’s example?
Do we allow the people to continue as they have, and keep their guns?
Australia’s example is an interesting one, most-assuredly.
However, it likely will not work for the American people.
Australia does not have anything similar to America’s Second Amendment. The United States would have a far harder time getting all 50 states to agree to gun bans, whereas Australia needed only six states to agree to restrictions.
Finally, there is the cultural difference between America and Australia.
America has ingrained itself into a culture of violence and guns, and it is unlikely to see these trends changing anytime soon.
As has happened after other mass shootings, the media will argue over gun control, and then the topic will be pushed to the side for some other political agenda.
The fact is the world is broken. It is just the question of whether it is people, or guns, to blame.
Australia’s example is one that should be considered, allowing some modifications that would leave room for self-protection or appease those who are pro-Second Amendment.
For now, at least, we can strive to limit these mass shootings by introducing more in-depth background checks and limit the number of guns owned for those who live in urban areas, as well as a required amount of safety training.
If the American public can overcome its ingrained violence and use of guns, it may be possible for us to come together and find a way to minimize mass shootings in our nation.