Gun Control and Youth Education

  • Anika Goyal ’23

On August 3rd a Texas gunman killed 7 people and left at least 25 injured, after what started as a routine traffic stop. One of the lives lost was a 15-year-old, a high schooler just like us. A 9-year-old and a 17-month-old were also among the injured. No matter what our political beliefs are, we all have a responsibility to educate ourselves on how to make sure our communities are as safe as they can be.

As students, it is our responsibility to understand how gun violence affects us. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there have been at least 405 incidents of gun violence on school grounds between 2013 and 2018. Firearms are the second leading cause of death for American children and teens. Examples of gun violence at schools include shootings like Sandy Hook in Connecticut, Parkland in Florida, and Santa Fe in New Mexico. 

As a result of all this violence and media attention, a critical political debate rages in our society. Politicians on both sides of the debate have raised millions of dollars for their cause. The debate hinges on the interpretation of the Constitutional Second Amendment. Proponents of gun control want to limit access to guns through background checks, bans on assault weapons, and limitations on high capacity magazines. They believe that the Second Amendment was intended to grant access to firearms for only militias, rather than individuals. On the other side of the debate are advocates for preserving the rights to bear arms for individuals. They believe that the Second Amendment protects the individual rights of an American citizen to bear arms. Similarly, many believe that gun control laws give the government too much power and can be an invasion of privacy. An alternative solution is FBI aided background checks, which screen for criminal records of anyone seeking to buy a firearm. But, what happens when someone passes a background check to obtain a gun for “hunting purposes” when their actual intent is to kill innocent people? Mass shootings. This is why I believe that we should have stricter gun control, involving high-security background checks. 

Depending on your views, one can easily think about gun control laws in black and white. For example, individuals in favor of gun control strongly feel that by simply banning guns, we would have fewer homicides in our country. However, a study in Applied Economics Letters found that “assault weapons bans did not significantly affect murder rates at the state level” and also gun control laws do not guarantee that criminals will not be able to obtain guns illegally. Staunch supporters on each side of the gun control issue might feel this is a very simple issue. However, as responsible citizens, I strongly feel we should take the time to examine the arguments of all sides before we make our own decision. 

After a massacre in April of 1996, Australia unified the gun laws for all states. Specific semi-automatic, semi-automatic rifles, and shotguns were banned. Australians also now need background checks and licensing to own a gun. Guns are only permitted for sports, shooting, and agriculture, not for individual protection. The Australian government also bought back and destroyed $375 million worth of guns. After these laws were put into place the amount of gun-related deaths declined substantially. Considering how effective these laws were for Australia, they could be possible ways to solve the gun control issue in America.

As the debate on gun control rages, we must educate and advocate for the safety of our communities regardless of our political stance. All sides of this argument agree that education about guns and gun safety is critical. As students, we can educate ourselves and others by going to certified websites such as The Center for Disease Control and Prevention or The Mayo Clinic. If we don’t act on this issue nobody ever will. To do this we must educate ourselves and solve this crisis.

Photo from KQED

By Axel de Vernou

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