It’s time for common sense gun measures

Columbine: 13. Sandy Hook: 26. Marjory Stoneman Douglas: 17. School and other mass shootings draw the nation’s attention in horror and sympathy for the innocent victims of such violence. In such times of tragedy we come together to grieve, and to act. Yet in the past, even with a majority of Americans united in the understanding that something must be done, legislators on Capitol Hill have hesitated on action regarding gun control. This time might be different. It should be different.

Attacking gun violence shouldn’t be divisive. How many shootings will happen before we finally wake up to the grim reality facing our society? Mass shootings aren’t a passing problem that will never resurface again; we must combat this together, as a nation, now. Already there are promising signs that legislators and the President are awakening to the fact that change is needed. Movements across America, such as those organized by students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, are giving lawmakers the signal that change is supported. With this combination, change can occur.

It is important to recognize that the U.S. can have common-sense gun control without invalidating the Second Amendment. Gun ownership is important to a large portion of American citizens, so it is clear that calls to completely bar ownership will not get any momentum. The focus should be on the gun show loophole, the fact that an 18-year-old shouldn’t be able to purchase an assault-style weapon, the fact that background checks should be revamped, centralized, and completely enforced, and that any history of mental health instability should immediately raise a red flag. These are changes that everyone should be able to unite behind.

The National Rifle Association, or at least its leadership, doesn’t seem to want any change. It is disappointing that the leaders of the NRA do not seem willing to acknowledge that 17 students just died because a deranged, mentally unstable teenager was able to legally purchase an assault-style rifle. It is disappointing that they never cede ground, never stop to think how insincere, how off-putting their approach is to these tragedies. I support the Second Amendment, and I understand those who want their gun ownership rights protected. But some gun control must be enforced.

In fact, many conservatives have come out in support of changes, saying they recognize that something must be done. It is heartening that many Second Amendment supporters are also hoping for common-sense measures that bring about positive change. To the leadership of the NRA, then: Can you not show a bit more support in stopping gun violence by agreeing to regulations? Your defense is the worry that this will somehow start a trend towards removing all gun rights. That is probably the most unlikely scenario to ever occur, given that we all live in a country that has the right to bear arms inscribed into its founding documents.

With the fact that many Second Amendment supporters are open to change, there should be no question about action. Perhaps President Trump will convince lawmakers to exit the octopus-like control of the NRA and move forward on tangible progress. Perhaps change will occur, with students around the country effectively organizing through social media and other means. Perhaps we will look back in 10 years and remember that this was when we were able to unite around a common goal, when we were able to better our society. Only time will tell.

It’s not like there is much to debate. How do you defend giving mentally or emotionally unstable people a gun? Short answer: you don’t. Now it may be hard to determine what qualifies as mentally or emotionally stable. But if someone has shown they can’t act rationally, or if they have a history of mental or emotional issues, they shouldn’t have open access to guns. Thoroughly restricting and banning such access is one step towards helping prevent tragedies.

One of the NRA’s favorite defenses is that criminals will always get guns, no matter what. It is true that underground markets and other uncontrollable methods may still allow people the ability to acquire weapons. But even so, the teenager who shot students at Marjory Douglas purchased his weapon legally, when he clearly should have been barred from doing so. Additionally, removing the gun show loophole, and other loopholes that allow unrestricted access to guns, will close off the ability to get guns without a background check and other restrictions. How are we at an impasse over simply making it impossible for weapons to get into the wrong hands legally? How are we defending an open invitation for guns to be legally acquired by those with horrific plans? If you are a law-abiding citizen, why are you worried about going through an extra couple of steps to purchase a gun? It may be a hassle, but then again, wouldn’t the end result benefit more people by hopefully helping prevent such tragedies?

The fact is, there are many issues that need and should be addressed to combat instances of gun violence. These don’t take away gun rights — they simply add protections against mass violence by disturbed individuals. We should not need to spend years arguing about this issue. There are solutions that will help, and Americans across the country are supportive of these measures. If Congress acts, it will cement citizens’ support of legislators in the upcoming midterm elections and into the future.

Seventeen students recently died. They had futures and families. They did not expect their school to become a death trap. Reasonable gun control measures, addressed to prevent these horrific tragedies, should and must become a reality.