By ERIC TEEL
On Feb. 14, America suffered the second-worst school shooting in its history with 17 innocent high-schoolers losing their lives to yet more senseless gun violence.
Over the last two weeks, teenagers have been organizing across the country to campaign for much-needed changes in American firearm laws. As someone with a mother and grandmother with jobs in the education system, I am one of the many young people across the country who are angry and upset at the lack of action by our representatives in government to protect our students and teachers.
According to the American Journal of Medicine, “the number of Americans killed by guns per 100,000 is 10 times higher than the corresponding figure across 22 other high-income countries.”
Just this year alone, 1,800 Americans have died from firearms, according to a non-profit group called Gun Violence Archive. With numbers like these, it’s easy to see that we have a problem.
Since 1968, over 1.5 million Americans have been killed in gun-related incidents, according to Politifact. This is more than every American war death since the founding of the country. With only 5 percent of the world’s population, many Americans are wondering why our country has 31 percent of the global mass shootings.
When looking for solutions for why this is the case, it can vary widely across the political spectrum. On the left, figures such as former President Barack Obama said that an increase in common sense gun safety laws could reduce the number of incidents like this. On the right, public figures such as Rick Santorum say that this shooting is because “these kids come from broken homes without dads” and that this shooting is the result of the breakdown of the two parent household.
These viewpoints may seem very far apart, but I suspect many Americans would back some common-sense gun legislation that would make the average American safer without infringing on law-abiding Americans’ Second Amendment rights.
The first step that many of our representatives have called for is a strengthening of our background check laws. This would make it more difficult for people like the shooter behind the latest tragedy to access weapons that can do untold damage in very short amounts of time to many people. It is a shame that even common sense changes in the system, such as this, are interpreted by many on the right as an assault on their rights to bear arms.
Even if Americans disagree with each other over the prospect of banning assault weapons, keeping these guns away from people like the shooter at Stoneman Douglas High School should be something I would hope most Americans could agree on. As a country that prides ourselves on being the best in the world, this level of gun violence should be a concern to every citizen.
Sadly, we seem to be seeing any lack of action on a federal level to pass gun safety laws. This is because the American gun lobby known as the National Rifle Association has given 10s of millions of dollars in funding to American politicians with the intention of dissuading them from voting for any and all restrictions to U.S. firearm sales.
In Arizona, Sen. John McCain has received over $7.7 million in NRA donations, according to the New York Times. On top of this, the NRA spent $30.3 million in support of Trump’s election campaign, according to the Federal Election Commision.
With the huge amount of money flowing into Republican election coffers from this lobbying group, it is not hard to see why no action has been taken that could even possibly have a negative effect on gun sales. Since this is the reality we are living in, it is up to the students and activists outside of government like the #neveragain movement to push for the changes we need to make America safe again.