MDGovpics/CC BY 2.0
If America could be described as one song right now, it would be Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People. This catchy pop tune’s lively portrayal analyzes the behavior of Robert, a boy on his way to high school handling a gun he found in his father’s closet with the intent of harming his classmates. The song was inspired to raise gun violence awareness by lyrically recapturing April 20, 1999, the Columbine massacre, the initiation of modern-day mass shootings. In recent months, gun violence and mass shootings in America have increased, while the obligation to address the matter has not reached where it needs to be.
On March 16, a series of mass shootings happened at three spas located in Atlanta, Georgia. Eight people died, six being Asian women, and one person was wounded. The suspect, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, who used an automatic weapon, was taken into custody later that day. These shootings are currently being investigated.
A week later on March 22, a mass shooting occurred at a King Soopers supermarket in Boulder, Colorado. Ten people were killed, including a local on-duty police officer. The alleged shooter, 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Al-Issa, was arrested after being shot in the right leg by police. He was then taken into custody and charged with first-degree murder.
On April 15, a FedEx Ground facility in Indianapolis, Indiana was targeted by 19-year-old former employee Brandon Scott Hole, who shot and killed nine people and injured seven.
Each breaking news alert covering these tragedies floods the nation with grief and anger over this preventable violence. Anger brewing from the fact that the United States is not the only country with mental illness, domestic violence or poverty, yet our gun homicide rate is 25 times higher than other high-income countries. The difference is easy to access guns.
In the United States, gun ownership is a given right as stated in the second amendment of the U.S constitution. A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. The amendment has been up for debate whether the founding fathers meant “right of the people to keep and bear arms” as a militia or individually.
There are only nine regulations prohibiting a person from obtaining a gun in the United States, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). These rules restrict the person based on their citizenship or criminal background, yet there are no restrictions on the types of firearms. The inconsistency here is that all guns are marketed the same despite their levels of intensity or power capability. 26% of the last 80 mass shootings in America involved an assault rifle. Assault weapons are still permitted in all states excluding California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.
To try and increase the number of states prohibiting these firearms, President Joe Biden has been pushing for new gun control laws since 2012. After former President Barack Obama was reelected in 2012, one of his primary focuses was gun control. Obama appointed his Vice President, now President Biden, to take the lead on that task force, pushing for gun control reforms.
On March 23, the day after the Boulder, Colorado shooting, Biden called for a ban on assault rifles. A quick response to these urgent concerns gives the American public trust that ending gun violence is something Biden will commit to fighting and controlling throughout his presidency. Having gun control prioritized on an agenda is a refreshing reset for the country as it has gone disregarded for far too long.
Nearly a month later, Biden reiterated ending the gun violence epidemic during his April 28 address to a joint session of Congress. He introduced a nationwide ban on assault weapons while exclaiming he will not and can not restrict all guns.
“In the 1990s, we passed universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines that hold 100 rounds that can be fired in seconds. Mass shootings and gun violence declined. But in the early 2000s, that law expired and we’ve seen the daily bloodshed since. We need a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines again. Don’t tell me it can’t be done. We’ve done it before and it worked,” Biden said during his address.
Politicians and citizens alike need to commit to constructively talking about guns to ensure change happens in legislation. This means acknowledging the gun violence in the United States and developing a plan to hinder it, especially when it can be prevented. No matter Democrat or Republican, everyone can agree with preserving the safety of life.