Gun Control: A need for Universal Background Checks

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Now, more than ever is time for a change. After the Parkland shooting, I realized how relevant mass shootings in America are. In the first 45 days of 2018, there have been 29 mass shootings. When seeing that statistic, the idea of possibly being the victim of one of the next shootings seemed foreign, but sitting in French class as the notification of the Parkland shooting appeared, I realized that I could have very well been in the classroom where gunshots killed 17 too many people. All I could think to myself was: What if I am next? Seeing the protests on Capitol Hill and in Tallahassee made me realize that I too have a voice, no matter how young I may be. The United States Congress must implement and improve universal background checks to protect the general public while not undermining second amendment rights.

Congress must protect the people of the United States by making gun laws stricter without taking away our right to the second amendment. Before being able to purchase a gun, all buyers’ mental state and a criminal record should be examined to protected the health of not only others, but the buyer’s as well. Universal Background Checks reduce firearm suicides: According to the Giffords Law Center: universal background check requirements reduce firearm suicides by 53%. More important than anything else, is the importance of a right to live. With that being said, Universal Background checks would significantly prevent gun violence, while protecting America's second amendment right because Universal Background Checks don’t prevent ordinary citizens from owning guns, only criminals, and criminals already lose certain rights (ex. voting). Assault rifles sales, such as the AR-15 used in the recent Florida School shooting, should be banned in the United States since their purpose is to kill many people in very little time, especially during war. The second amendment allows for people to carry firearms for their own protection-assault rifles not. Banning Assault rifles is just one of the many steps that can be taken to improve universal background checks and prevent gun violence. It takes 3 days to get the results for background checks,  and if the results don’t come in time the individual is allowed to buy a gun, even if they wouldn’t pass, meaning that if background checks are applied, those who are incapable of obtaining guns will be eligible to buy guns legally.  This 3-day loophole must be abolished so those who shouldn’t be eligible to buy a gun, cannot purchase one. Not only do gun laws have to be stricter, but these laws must be applied equally throughout the United States.

Gun sale restrictions should be applied equally throughout the United States. The Concealed Carry Reciprocity act states that its mission is “To amend title 18, United States Code, to provide a means by which nonresidents of a State whose residents may carry concealed firearms may also do so in the State.” Rather than passing a bill to allow out-of-state residents to have more lenient gun laws than those living in a state, Congress should put in place strict gun regulations in all parts of the United States equally. According to the Washington Post, “Shaneen Allen, 27, was pulled over in Atlantic County, N.J. The officer who pulled her over says she made an unsafe lane change. During the stop, Allen informed the officer that she was a resident of Pennsylvania and had a conceal carry permit in her home state. She also had a handgun in her car. Had she been in Pennsylvania, having the gun in the car would have been perfectly legal. But Allen was pulled over in New Jersey, home to some of the strictest gun control laws in the United States.” By having the same gun restrictions throughout the United States, average citizens such as Shaneen Allen would have access to guns, but those with a criminal record, mental instability, or a young age will be equally ineligible to purchase a gun, no matter where they are. Stricter gun restrictions in all parts of the U.S. are not only needed to protect the public but as a democracy, Congress should keep in mind the public’s opinion of implementing universal background checks.

Being a democracy, it is important for those in power to understand the opinions of the people they represent. Multiple sources show that Americans of all categories agree on many characteristics entailed in universal gun background checks. There is bipartisan support for stricter regulations. The Washington Post states that “85% of the public – including large majorities of both Republicans (79%) and Democrats (88%) – favored making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks.”According to a survey by Pew, Gun owners favor increased gun regulation – 48 percent of gun owners say they believe in banning “assault-style” weapons.  Longley 2017 finds that while convicted felons are unable to purchase guns, “Under the current federal law, being listed on the FBI Terrorist Watchlist as a suspected or confirmed terrorist is not grounds for denial of a firearm purchase.” 89% of the U.S. population agrees that universal background checks should be used to prevent those on the terrorist watch list from obtaining guns. 87% of people agree that universal background checks should be used to prevent those who are mentally ill from obtaining guns. 83% of the U.S. population agrees that universal background checks should be used to prevent those who are violent criminals from obtaining guns. Congress must respect most Americans’ opinions on gun control by putting in place universal background checks.

Going to school, I shouldn’t have to worry about where to hide in the event of a shooting, or know when it is safe to evacuate the building. Years ago, when I attended a very small school, I never imagined that I would personally be at risk for one of these school shootings. Just months after starting at my new school, we were alerted that there was a terrorist threat to the National Cathedral, just feet from my school. After hearing that, I was in utter shock, yet as these threats become more prevalent, it is becoming a norm. Just a week after the Parkland shooting, two of my friends on opposite sides of the country could not attend classes for their schools were threatened with another shooting. Without a change in legislation, gun violence will not subside.


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