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Opinion: don’t ban guns — instead, know who buys them

Just because I’m a firm believer that people, not guns, kill people, that doesn’t mean I don’t support President Obama’s executive order to increase gun control. A person can commit an act of gun violence because of their beliefs or mental instability, and that is why we need more expansive background checks that will stop any person with irregular tendencies from buying a gun.

In the cases of the shootings in Aurora, Colo., Charleston, S.C., Lafayette, La. and San Bernardino, all guns were bought legally from licensed stores. All these shooters either had a criminal background, ties to radical terrorism, or had pursued medical help for disabilities that were known to a court. James E. Holmes (Aurora) was seeing a psychiatrist for mental illness when he “bought 3,000 rounds of ammunition for handguns, 3,000 rounds for a semiautomatic rifle and 350 shells for a 12-gauge shotgun, all over the Internet,” according to the New York Times. Dylann Roof (Charleston) had been charged with a misdemeanor for possessing Suboxone. Roof should have been kept from buying a gun because he had admitted to possessing drugs, “but the F.B.I. examiner conducting the required background check failed to obtain the police report from the February incident,” according to the New York Times. John R. Houser (Lafayette) was denied a state-issued concealed carry permit because he was accused of domestic violence and soliciting arson, and in 2008, a judge ordered him sent to a psychiatric hospital. Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik (San Bernardino) were believed to have been radicalized for a long time, according to the FBI. If one thing is clear from all these shootings, it’s that background checks on the purchasers of guns need to be completely revolutionized.

On Jan. 5, President Obama enacted his executive action on gun control, calling for better background checks and reinforcing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the FBI when is comes to the issue of gun violence. The executive action calls to “modernize NICS to allow for background checks to be processed 24/7 and permit better notification of state and local authorities when certain prohibited persons attempt to buy a gun,” and provide for 200 new ATF agents to enforce gun laws, increase FBI personnel by 50 percent, and establish an Internet Investigation Center with dedicated personnel to track illegal online firearms trafficking. This new action is crucial in keeping people who shouldn’t own guns from buying them and endangering others. It also still allows those who want guns to partake in certain activities or those who need them, to buy guns.

Taking guns away won’t stop the threat of guns. Some will argue that in states with strict gun laws, there are fewer gun deaths than in states with loose gun laws; however, the state of Wyoming disproves this. According to factcheck.org, in 2013, Wyoming had the sixth highest firearm death rate at 16.7 gun deaths for every 100,000 people; however, Wyoming’s homicide rate was zero. It is important to understand that a state’s firearm deaths include suicides, unintentional discharges, police action, and undetermined cases–– not just homicides; of which in Wyoming there were none. In fact, nationwide, “in 2013 there was a total of 33,636 firearm deaths, and 21,175, or 63 percent, were suicides,” according to the CDC, and homicides made up 11,208, or 33 percent, of those firearm deaths. The suicide death rate should not affect gun control. What a person decides to do with their body is their decision and not the government’s, therefore, the government should not ban guns simply because there are a lot of suicides.

Many also don’t realize that “the firearms industry contributes more than $33 billion to the U.S. economy and supports about 220,000 jobs,” according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. As states by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, “That’s more than double the North American payrolls of General Motors, which President Barack Obama called ‘a pillar of our economy’ when he explained the decision to provide more taxpayer aid to help save the car maker in 2009.” By banning guns, you are affecting the welfare of those employed in the gun industry.

While some people view guns as dangerous and associate them with crime and fear, others associate guns with pride, freedom, safety, and honor. With an estimated 310 million guns in the United States alone, according to dailycaller.com, if guns are ever banned, who is going to go around and collect every single one of those guns? It would be impossible. Our nation should focus on ways to improve background checks and the purchasing of guns instead because that is a step we can take that will actually save lives and is doable.

Do not take away the people’s right to own guns. Stronger gun laws will do enough by making it harder to buy a gun.

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