Working towards not becoming another statistic

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Alex Stogin, Online Editor

 

Last week the United States experienced another tragic mass shooting, this time at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

A 26-year-old gunman entered into a building on campus and began shooting students and faculty at random, killing ten and wounding seven others. The United States must grapple once again with the reality of gun violence across the nation and ask it itself why it is the only developed nation that tolerates this kind of violence.

As President Obama put it, our nation has become “numb” to mass shootings such as these and that the responses from himself, the media and other legislators have become “routine” due to the frequency of these shootings.

I stand alongside the president in wondering why we as a nation struggle to enact the reforms necessary to stem this kind of violence and would like to see gun laws passed through Congress. The statistics about gun deaths in the U.S. highlight the need for such laws.

According to the group ‘Shooting Tracker’ there have been 994 mass shootings – defined by the FBI as an incident where four or more people are killed or injured by a gun – since Obama’s reelection in 2012 and 294 in 2015 alone. Most of these incidents get no news coverage but happen every day across the nation.

According to ‘Politfact’ more people have died from gun violence in the U.S. since 1968 (1.4 million deaths) than military personal have died in all U.S. military conflicts combined since the Revolution (1.2 million deaths).

According to the ‘Small Arms Survey’ and ‘UNODC’ the U.S. is miles ahead of the rest of the developed world in number of guns per capita and deaths per 100,000 people due to gun violence; roughly 88.8 guns per 100 people and 3.21 deaths per 100,000 due to gun violence. Our closest competitors in those realms are Norway with 31.3 guns per 100 people and Canada with 0.51 deaths per 100,000 people due to gun violence.

These types of statistics show exactly why we need more gun regulation. I’d like to make clear that I am not advocating for banning all guns but instead the regulation of access to certain firearms and limitation of access for certain people. By simply following the ideas of our allied nations we could see the near elimination of mass shootings just as they have.

Examples would include requiring gun owners to obtain a license before being able to purchase a firearm, closing the “gun show” loophole, mandatory shooting and safety training classes, criminal and mental background screenings and requiring the renewal of the gun license every few years along with the banning of drum magazines and most or all fully automatic weapons and some semiautomatic ones. These laws would help us nearly eliminate mass shootings as our allies have done and still allow law-abiding citizens to have firearms.

I believe that as a nation we want to keep our people safe. We have given up multiple civil liberties and rights (such as privacy) and spent trillions securing our borders, fighting wars and running entire governmental agencies to combat terrorism.

I would like for us to put that kind of effort and determination towards ending gun violence, something that on average kills at least 10,000 Americans every year. It’s time to protect our people from the threat of being the victim of an unnecessary shooting here at home.