“Guns don’t kill people! People kill people!” That is true. Nikolas Cruz did kill people. He killed 17 innocent people in Parkland, Florida on February 14. Now tell me what he killed them with. Say it with me: a gun. A semiautomatic gun to be exact; an AR-15 that, personally, I
believe know holds no place in civilian society.
We can all agree, no matter our political allegiance, that mass shootings in America is a problem. Most of these shootings can be traced back to semiautomatic weapons and more specifically, the AR-15. Supporters of this detestable mass murder machine say that it is not the weapon’s fault for being the most popular gun of choice amongst mass shooters, to which I say: why are mass shooters even being given the choice? As much as I would love to see the United States take sweeping measures like Australia after the Port Arthur Massacre, I know that our current government would not be able to handle taking such a large and responsible step in the right direction. So, for now, I am willing to compromise. I simply ask that two steps be added in the process of obtaining a gun in America: universal background checks and mental-health evaluations.
Some may argue that checking to see if someone is a criminal and mentally sound will infringe on privacy rights but when someone is about to purchase a deadly weapon, isn’t it simply the responsible thing to do? I would rather that measures be in place to protect the public than hear that my younger brother had to hide in a closet from someone who was able to buy a semiautomatic rifle from down the street despite having a history of violence.
Someone with a history of domestic violence or a felony on their record should not be allowed to own a firearm. Unfortunately, just a background check alone does not do much as Nikolas Cruz’s lack of a criminal record before February 14 allowed him to pass a background check. However, and this is where everyone freaks out so bear with me, if a mental health evaluation were added to the process of obtaining a gun, he most certainly would have been barred from buying one and 17 people would still be alive today.
In Japan, the process of just getting a license to own a gun can take months. One of the steps in this extensive process is visiting a mental-health professional who evaluates whether or not you are fit to be in possession of such a dangerous weapon. If someone is clearly not in the right state of mind, they should not be allowed near something that could hurt themselves and the people around them. Even President Donald Trump agrees that red flags should be noted and, in light of the recent Florida school shooting, tweeted that it is unacceptable “that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter.” The FBI receives an unprecedented amount of threats of gun violence daily; some are serious and some are not. With so many threats so often, it becomes hard to sift through the reports and things can slip through the cracks – such was the case with Cruz.
No matter how much the President has deluded himself that a tweet will solve everything, it won’t. Having universal background checks and mandatory mental-health evaluations will. This two-step process to getting a gun will filter out the people unfit to possess a firearm and the mere fact that one would have to potentially wait months to even get permission to get a license is a deterrent of its own. But let’s say someone were to still manage to pass these tests and the FBI were to be notified of dangerous activity, they would actually be able to allocate resources to investigating since this system would hopefully serve to cut down on such reports. If Nikolas Cruz were forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before purchasing an AR-15, his evaluator would have immediately denied his request to buy a gun after seeing that he was prone to violent outbursts in addition to displaying other forms of disturbing and erratic behavior.
Gun control is not gun confiscation. Let me say that again because it seems that some people don’t understand: control is not confiscation. I would love to see all guns completely banned from this trigger-happy country but, considering the pitiful state of our current government, that is not going to happen soon. Lucky to those Second Amendment fetishists stuck in 1791. Gun control is simply the regulation of dangerous weapons and the protection of innocent people. Yes, there are people who want to hurt others and yes, they might find sources outside of guns to do so, but give me one case in which 17 people were murdered in less than 10 minutes by someone with a knife.
I’d list all the names of the victims of American gun violence in this year alone, notice how we’re just in the second month of 2018, but I don’t think there would be enough room to list all 60-plus names. And that number will most certainly go up unless we work to make changes to our current system. Thoughts and prayers don’t mean a damn thing when people are being murdered every day. Call your Senators and call your state representatives. Let Parkland be the last.