Garfield Senior High School

Opinion: Gun violence and police

Over the past decade, the amount of mass shootings in the United States has increased. We see it reported through the news whenever the latest shooting has happened, and every time the debate about gun control becomes more heated. This has happened so often that many people have become jaded towards these incredibly horrid events.

With the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the debate has become more vocal due to popular outrage and student organized protest. It has become abundantly clear that there needs to be changes made, or else rampant gun violence will continue to happen.

When looking at issues like this, it is important to look at the broader picture of gun violence and see what changes can be made to decrease it. The general position for students advocating for gun control is that assault style weapons as well as bump stocks must be banned.

While I agree with the aforementioned propositions, I do have one fear. I fear that the newly enforced laws will target minorities in order to further feed the prison industrial system. The reason being that historically, gun control has primarily targeted African Americans, further imprisoning them.

In the 1960s, many African American groups became armed in order to protect themselves from police brutality. This is when we saw a rise of gun control laws, which focused on getting rid of guns, yet did nothing to stop police violence. So, if we are to stop gun violence in our communities we need to examine not only what gun control measures have taken place throughout the country, but also how policing affects people’s view on the need for arms.

Police brutality continues to be a big issue. According to mappingpoliceviolence.org, there were only 14 days in 2017 where someone was not killed by police.

The same site provides statistics stating that African Americans are three times as likely as white people to be killed by police. It is clear that police forces in the United States discriminate minority communities, especially people of color.

Part of what I would view as the problem is the high militarization of law enforcement. There is police across the country who have access to weapons of war. Police are meant to enforce peace and law within communities. If the argument made for banning assault weapons is that citizens have no need for them, and they cause more damage than they do good, then the same could be said for the military grade weaponry that many police departments have access to.

One could say, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to not only to look at the further restriction of dangerous weapons from citizens, but to also look into the way it would be implemented as to not target minorities. in a repeat of gun legislation passed in the 60s, such as the Gun Control Act of 1968 which banned a type of low cost handgun, a weapon mainly used by lower income gun owners.

The time for action is now. We cannot let gun violence be such a rampant issue in the United States. However, we can’t be quick to pass legislation when it can lead to more damage than good. Therefore, we should not only focus our efforts into disarming civilians, but we should also focus on demilitarizing the police, and making them accountable for police brutality and systematic oppression.