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Gun Reform, It’s Simple

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Editorial Cartoon by Nish Gorczyca

Editorial Cartoon by Nish Gorczyca

Editorial Cartoon by Nish Gorczyca

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There is nothing simple about 14 high schoolers and three of their teachers being gunned down at the end of a school day.

Just like there is nothing simple about 20 elementary school children and six of their teachers being gunned down. Or 59 concertgoers, nice black individuals in a historic African American church, 49 LGBTQ+ individuals in a nightclub, or 26 parishioners sitting in pews in a church in Texas. None of it is simple.

The United States has more mass shootings —and more people killed in mass shootings — than Australia, Canada, China, England, Finland, France, Germany, Mexico, Norway and Switzerland combined, according to Politifact.

Politifact also reports that in the United States, there are between 6 million and 10 million AR-15 semi-automatic rifles in circulation. In 1994, a ban was placed on the manufacturing of the AR-15, but that ended in 2004. Now, there is no federal law regulating the semi-automatic rifle and laws regarding it are up to states.

Two of the deadliest mass shootings have taken place in Florida: the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016 and at Stoneman Douglas High School just last week. Laws regarding guns in Florida are essentially non-existent. One is not required to have a gun permit to purchase a firearm. The legal age to buy a gun is 18, but minors may do so with parental permission. It is easier to buy an AR-15 in Florida than a handgun. In some states, an AR-15 is against hunting laws.

There is nothing simple about the number of mass shootings that plague American cities. But it seems that there is nothing complicated either. It is the opinion of the University News Editorial Board that things cannot carry on as they are, and that gun reform and small actions such as voting are all it takes to keep each other safe.

Whether the arguments span to mental health, broken families, education or culture, it still revolves around the availability of military-grade weapons to the public. Yes, people kill people. However, it physically takes a human being to pull the trigger in order for a gun to be fired and imminently kill or maim another living being. But the gun is still the agent that brings death. How many lives could have been saved if a law made it harder for the killer to get a gun? These questions seem impossible to answer, but fair to ask.

Resident advisors at SLU received training on what to do in a school shooting and paid for it on their own dime. One editor on the board shared that her mom, a preschool teacher, had to have a conversation about school shootings with her students. This seems ridiculous, yet totally and completely necessary. The reality of the world we live in is that not even preschool students can be afforded the innocence their small knowledge of the world requires when one day they could be at the wrong end of a barrel.

Morality is a fickle thing. It can be debated and twisted by politicians and media personalities in order to force an agenda. But in this case, it seems to be clear as can be. People are dying. It’s a different time, so we need to do something different.

Educate yourself on signs of a distressed person. Educate yourself on guns and what to do if you’re ever faced with one. Get out and vote. As this editorial was being written, Florida lawmakers voted to make pornography a public health care concern, but blocked a ban on assault rifles. Vote for politicians who did not receive money from the NRA. Get out and vote for legislation that supports mental health resources for schools, affordable childcare so parents can continue to work and provide a stable household, and that does not cut money from Medicaid and Medicare.

If there is anything we should have learned in the last 20 years since Columbine rocked our cozy suburban lives, it is that a large power resides in the hands of human beings. Whether that power is transmitted through an AR-15, a voting ballot, or in extending it to another person who feels lost, it is up to us. It’s simple.

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Gun Reform, It’s Simple