Sierra Canyon High School

Opinion: Hey, hey, NRA! How many kids did you kill today?

On June 1, 2016, Sierra Canyon English teacher Victoria Zielinski went on the UCLA campus to produce a promotional film. While she was on campus, a student fatally shot a UCLA professor and himself. Zielinski was put on lockdown for three hours, in a building very close to where the shooting occurred.

“We live in a world where gun violence is becoming something that’s almost expected, and that makes me very sad. We need to do something about violence in our culture, to prevent this kind of thing from happening as frequently as it does,” Zielinski said.

Following the deadliest shooting in American history in Las Vegas, it is impossible to not understand that this gun violence epidemic will not be stopped without a drastic rise in gun control.

Automatic weapons must be unconditionally banned, as there is no reason someone would need something that powerful for innocuous purposes like hunting or home defense. As the Las Vegas shooting demonstrated, bump stocks (which allow for semiautomatic weapons to be made automatic) must be banned as well. All guns should be equipped with technology (“smart guns”) that allows them to only be fired by the licensed buyer (for example, via fingerprint identification), in case the gun is stolen or sold privately. Background checks should keep someone on a no-fly list from buying a gun. Gun shows must be required to perform background checks; since the “gun show loophole” makes background checks almost useless.

Gun control is much more popular than many believe. In the aftermath of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting in June 2016, 85 percent of Democrats and 90 percent of Republicans supported banning people on the no-fly list from buying guns, according to CNN. After Las Vegas, on Oct. 12 of this year, The Hill reported that 60 percent of poll respondents support stricter gun control, an all-time high. In fact, in 2016 The Guardian found that, of about 265 million guns owned by Americans, 133 million are owned by 3 percent of American adults.

While I do not support taking away the guns people already own (this would almost certainly be illegal, due to the well-established principle against applying laws retroactively), the act of confiscating all privately-owned guns in America might be easier than is commonly thought.

For any other issue, it would be impossible for so little to be accomplished with this level of support. This is solely due to gun lobbyists like the NRA, who defend the right to own absolutely any and all guns because of their fanatical devotion to the Second Amendment– for reasons even they probably don’t understand. With the exception of banning automatic weapons and bump stocks, the items on the above list don’t have anything to do with banning guns, but simply regulating them.

There’s a reason it’s called gun control, not gun abolition. And, the Second Amendment simply refers to the “right to bear arms,” not any and all arms. There already are many weapons (military-grade, for example) that are not commercially available. You have a “right to privacy,” but not in all things: if you make counterfeit money or cook crystal meth, the government won’t care that you did it in the privacy of your own home.

The NRA has hijacked our democracy– at gunpoint. They’ve committed armed robbery against the science that demonstrates unequivocally that fewer guns equals less gun deaths.

Hugh La Follette, an ethics professor from the University of South Florida, determined that whenever there is one person from a gun owning household who successfully defends themselves with a gun by killing the attacker, there are 43 people in a similar gun owning household who die gun-related deaths. Clearly, if America wants to protect its citizens, proliferation  for “self-defense” is the wrong choice. But, that one person who successfully defends themselves is enough reason for me to not call for banning gun ownership completely.

The UK and Australia are just two examples of Western countries that have seen dramatic improvement after passing strict gun control legislation. Both did this following shootings  in 1996: the Dunblane School Massacre in the UK, which killed 17; and the Port Arthur Massacre in Australia, which killed 35. Dunblane led to the banning of almost all handguns in Britain; Australia banned most automatic weapons, placed a 28-day waiting period on purchases, and required buyers to demonstrate that they could store the gun securely.

A 2010 study printed in Oxford Journals found that between 1996-2006 Australian gun homicide fell 59 percent. No mass shootings (where at least five people die) have occurred in Australia since Port Arthur, or school shootings in the UK since Dunblane. Meanwhile, CNN reports that the U.S. has 5 percent of the world population, but 50 percent of its guns.

Violence Policy Center reports that, in 2013, the UK had 0.23 gun deaths per 100,000 people, compared to the United States’ 10.64.  Public Health Professor Simon Chapman of the University of Sydney reports that while America’s population is only 13.7 times higher than Australia’s, America has 134 times as many firearm deaths, and 27 times as many firearm homicides.

One can see the relationship within America as well: VPC found that Hawaii had the lowest gun death rate in 2014, 2.82 per 100,000 people, and had guns in only 12.5 percent of households; Alaska had the highest gun death rate, 19.68, with guns in 56.4 percent of households; and this correlation holds true for all 50 states.

Certain anti-gun control arguments persist, no matter how easy to debunk: for example, that an armed civilian could have stopped it, combined with the argument that shooters target “gun-free” zones. This is empirically false: the LA Times reports that of 160 FBI-designated “active shooting” incidents between 2000 and 2013, only one was stopped by an armed civilian. Of 33 mass public shootings between January 2009 and June 2014, 18 were in places where guns were not explicitly banned or that had armed security.

After Las Vegas, many prominent Republicans repeated the claim that people will find a way to acquire guns even if they are banned. As has been pointed out everywhere from social media to speeches by Congressional Democrats, this stance (like so many other things GOP) is remarkably hypocritical. There are many things Republicans want to regulate or ban, presumably because they believe these measures will be effective: marijuana, same-sex marriage and adoption, voting without a photo ID, and in particular abortion.

Both abortion and guns are supposedly legal– so why the vastly different approaches to both? In recent weeks, social media users have challenged people to imagine buying a gun being as hard as getting an abortion, leading The Huffington Post to conclude that “regulation works.”

After all, an abortion can’t kill 58 people in minutes. One can only conclude that Republicans stop caring about you the moment you are delivered at the hospital. Either that, or Republican politicians don’t care about human life at all, but just can’t stand the idea of women having the control over their bodies and lives that men take for granted.

When it comes down to it, something must be done to stop  gun violence. With it being empirically proven that proliferating gun ownership will not work, pro-gun activists have no legal course of action to suggest, while pro-gun control activists do. In other words, the only thing those against gun control can suggest is maintaining what– as Las Vegas demonstrated– is an increasingly intolerable status quo. If you have no other reason to support gun control, isn’t any plan better than no plan at all?

2 Comments

  • Reply Douglas Campbell October 31, 2017 at 6:07 am

    The main part of “gun violence” is caused by criminals committing crimes — crimes against persons, and crimes against property.

    We have laws against felons owning guns, and yet they still do. When those criminals show up, often the only thing between them and their ability to commit the crime is a person defending themselves with a gun. As you have pointed out, there are many “gun free zones” in our country, and if MORE people had guns, the criminals would find themselves vastly outnumbered in terms of firepower. You mention one in forty-two — well, why is that number so skewed? The answer may well lie in gun free zones — people cannot defend themselves against criminals because governments are making that hard. What your side would take away is that one person’s ability to defend themselves; you would have it be zero in forty-three.

    Because anecdotes are the way the left tends to argue, let me suggest a few:

    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/oklahoma-man-uses-ar-15-kill-three-teen-home-intruders-n739541

    Ok, so the NRA just killed three teenagers, according to your tally.

    http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/05/justice/oklahoma-intruder-shooting/index.html

    Woops, looks like the NRA saved a teenager.

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/08/01/texas-woman-shoots-kills-home-intruder.html

    Hmm. No kids at all. Just an old lady defending herself. Maybe the home intruder was a teenager. Ok, let’s count this against the NRA, anyway.

    You want “gun control”. But guns are not counterfeit money, nor are they crystal meth, as you posit what they might relate to. They are legitimate items of self defense, and there’s a reason the Founders put the Second Amendment into the Bill of Rights. As nice as the UK or Australia might be, no one in either has a right to free speech or free press, nor protections from search and seizure, nor a right to self defense. In the UK, the homicide rate was 10.9 per 1,000,000 people, but in the aftermath of gun control, it shot up to 18 per 1,000,000. Britain was only able to bring the murder rate down by hiring thousands of new police; the rate is now 11.1 per 1,000,000. In Australia, the murder rate spiked briefly after the gun ban, but has returned to pre-ban numbers. So, “gun violence” translates, more simply, to violence, and in some cases (such as the UK), greater violence than before the guns were banned. Could it be that criminals in certain cultures do not expect resistance in a gun free society?

    I am in Australia right now, and where I am in the Red Centre, crime is rampant. You are not allowed to defend yourself in public with anything — not pepper spray, nor a knife, nor a gun, nor a fist. Such is the world you would have us enter, and it’s not a nice one. We have gangs of teenagers around here who have nothing to do other than to rob people alone on the streets, or to invade their homes and rob them there. Just yesterday, three men came up to me right after I exited the grocery store with my packages in hand, surrounded me, and asked politely for some money. In your world, as here in Australia, I have no choice but to hand my money over. Is that the kind of world you want?

    So, your statistic of lowered “gun violence” doesn’t cover the collateral damage. In Australia, crime has increased, not gone down, as a result of these laws. Rape is at a level 5% higher than the USA. But deaths overall are lower here by over 3x — and it has nothing to do with reduced availability of guns. It’s culture, not guns.

    Note that here, as in the USA, the police are armed — and why the police are armed is a testament to the level of violence to which a criminal is apt to rise. Even in Britain, where the police traditionally have gone unarmed, they are now arming themselves. But against what? Guns are now banned in the UK, are they not?

    Why should a private citizen not have the same level of personal protection that a police officer has? Why must a private citizen submit to a criminal when the police would not even for an instant?

    I submit that every weapon which a police officer is prohibited from using in his or her self defence should be prohibited to the private citizen. And every weapon that a police officer is allowed to use for personal defense, ought to be permitted to the private citizen.

    That’s fair. So, on to what might work with gun control. Certainly we do not want felons — criminals — possessing firearms, so every firearm transaction ought to be vetted by an examination by the state to assure that a criminal is not on the receiving end of the transaction. Private parties, such as gun dealers, should not be the proxies for these transactions; the transactions should be done under the watchful eye of the police, who can certainly run the necessary record searches needed.

    Your argument about the differences between Republicans and Democrats shows the true agenda the Democrats want — the confiscation of firearms. You claim that you personally do not want this, and yet the Democrats do. I would call that hypocritical — let those Democrats that are in favor of disarmament disarm their security details first, and begin to bear the true cost of non-protection in a violent society. We private citizens do not have security details, so now those Democrats will truly experience what we experience on a daily basis.

    You then go on to bring in abortion. No abortion is not about mass killings — unless someone aborts quintuplets. But the onesies and twosies add up to a number of deaths per year which is far far greater than that of “gun violence”. If black lives matter, be aware that 30% of black children are aborted every year — as opposed to 11% of white children. So, where is the left on this? Seems they are killing black children like crazy — and loving it.

    But back to “58 people in minutes”. The man who did this had no criminal record. He had no record of mental health issues. He was, for all intents and purposes, a normal person — not on anyone’s radar. When he killed those 58 people, he used two guns in a fully automatic mode. Note that only two volleys of shots were heard before the man ceased fire. The police are very quiet about how this mode was attained — was it a bump stock or a modified sear bolt?

    The bump stock was originally invented to allow disabled people to safely fire their guns. So the left would deny to the disabled a right of defense. Of course, the NRA is, in this matter, now on the side of the left — how can they not be when it’s possible (but not certain) that the automatic weapons were made automatic via such a stock.

    What’s the endpoint? What kind of regulation do you want? Do you want checks on felonies and checks on mental health? They would not have caught the Las Vegas shooter, although they are sensible and might prevent other shootings. So, how does one prevent another Las Vegas? The answer is identical to that which would be used to prevent another Nice — or another Santa Monica Farmers Market. Ban the object causing the damage, be it trucks or guns. They both can be used to kill people, so the leftist response is to ban them. I happen to love my life, and do not want to lose it to a criminal.

    No thank you.

    Like

  • Reply Douglas Campbell October 31, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    Another mass murder today, according to your criterium (five or more killed). It was done using a rented truck. Perhaps that nasty American Automobile Association needs a good talking to.

    http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-world-trade-center-shots-20171031-story.html

    Like

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