I grew up in a small northern Michigan town where people shoot cans for sport. At school, it was normal for the hallways and classrooms to be empty on Nov. 15, because the opening day of deer season was practically a holiday. It isn’t uncommon for kids in my hometown to have shot a gun before the age of 10. I used to love shooting pistols at tree stumps for target practice. It is normal to see unloaded guns laying around my house. My dad, an avid hunter, raised me in a way that made me think that the right to bear arms is one of the greatest rights we have.
Hunting with my dad is one of my favorite things to do. And I’d give it up in a heartbeat. Being at college has given me an opportunity to form my own opinions and beliefs about certain issues. Every morning before class, I turn on CNN as I get ready for the day. It feels like every day there is a different horror story where someone is shot down like a dog in the street.
I watched the morning news the day reporter Alison Parker and Adam Ward were killed on camera on Aug. 26. Last week, a student at the University of Memphis was shot to death in the school’s student union building. The next day, a Texas sheriff deputy was shot in cold blood. That weekend a suspected unarmed man was shot by an officer in Texas.
Not everyone who owns a gun is an expert on using one. Almost every morning I see gun violence on the news. It makes me sad and embarrassed that our country hasn’t figured out an effective gun control method. The NRA claims that gun control shouldn’t be associated with any emotional outbreak. Why not? You mean to tell me that I just watched a reporter die on national news and that emotional rage shouldn’t affect my opinion on gun control? That actually sickens me.
According to a Gun Control Legislation specialist in domestic security and crime policy, as of 2012, the U.S. has so many guns that there’s nearly one firearm for every person who lives in the country. Privately held arsenal is growing at an extremely fast pace. There are 8 million firearms manufactured globally each year, and 4.5 million firearms are bought by people living in the U.S. Don’t be mistaken, this doesn’t mean that everyone is packing heat. In truth, the majority of our population is still unarmed. 43% of Americans have guns in their homes. As stated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. has over 11,000 homicides due to firearms each year. This amounts to about 70 percent of all homicides. Whether that rate seems high to you or not depends on your perspective. The U.S. isn’t the country with the most gun murders– that would be Honduras. However, there isn’t another country in the world with as many guns as the U.S.
If you look outside of the U.S. to countries that have relatively high gun-ownership rates, you’ll notice that their gun control laws are stricter. Finland has 69 guns per 100 people, but only 14 gun homicides per year. In most European nations with high levels of gun-owners, they use guns solely for hunting rather than protection. Self-defense is not a valid reason to obtain a license.
What about protection though? People opposed to gun control often argue that they need firepower to protect themselves. Don’t we have the right to protect our families? Can’t guns do that for us? Yes, if that’s your preferred decision. But, how effective is this decision if it’s just based out of reaction instead of detailed and rational consideration? The Committee on Law and Justice says that 43 percent of the 6 million people in the U.S. have firearms in their homes. This means that about 2.5 million people can claim they need guns for self-defense. But if that’s what they decide to claim, then they are rationalizing to an extent that they need guns for self-defense 100 percent of the time, and that idea is quite unnerving. When the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that people with guns are 4.5 more likely to be shot in an assault than those who were unarmed, it really makes you think how much you know is based out of belief rather than statistics.
Alison Parker’s dad, Andy Parker, has taken it in his own hands to step up and be a speaker for gun control. Parker spoke to CNN saying that he doesn’t think the government should take people’s guns away, but make the means of possessing a gun much harder. We live in a place where gun violence commonly happens in schools, malls, movies, and public places everywhere. People never know what danger or threat they’re putting themselves into. For crying out loud, these murders are taking place in public places with women, children, families, people of all types and then a sick-minded person with a short temper does something horrible and we’re not stopping this?
I don’t know what the answer is to stop this insanity. I believe that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. But, if politicians can’t step up and do anything about it, then why aren’t we? I’m not saying we should get rid of all 5 million guns in the U.S., but I am saying let’s make it a whole hell of a lot harder for people to get ahold of one. I still would give up all of my rights to a gun if it had to be done. I would give up every day hunting with my dad, every excited moment when I hit my target, every happy memory I have associated with guns if it saved one person’s life. It wouldn’t be easy for me or for millions of people to give this up. But I think one person’s life is worth the sacrifice of every gun on this planet. I would give up one of my most treasured hobbies if it made our society more safe. Because my hobbies aren’t worth the risk of someone’s life.
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