America is greater than the sum of its shootings

The need for gun control continues

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America is greater than the sum of its shootings

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Since the beginning of 2015, a mere ten months ago, there have been 297 mass shootings in the U.S, and 45 of those were school shootings. The most recent, which occurred last Thursday at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, resulted in the deaths of 10 people and injured over 20. Can we please stop pretending that gun violence isn’t a problem?
 
Not too long ago, gun violence, and more specifically school shootings, certainly existed but were rare. In April of 1999, when the Columbine High School massacre occurred, it shook our nation. The tragedy is largely credited with sparking the nationwide debate on gun control in the U.S. Since then, the events haven’t gotten any less tragic, but certainly receive less attention. The more shootings that occur, the less shocking they become to us.
 
What would have received weeks of coverage years ago now only gets hours of coverage or none at all, and the shootings are merely added to the growing list of horrific events in the U.S. The only school shooting that received nearly the same amount of national focus as Columbine was the infamous shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December of 2012 that killed 20 students and six adults. Even the recent Umpqua shooting has been pushed aside in the media and the public’s mind. We’re becoming immune to the issue, and that’s the most dangerous part of the problem.
 
Some shootings don’t receive any attention at all because so many occur that there is no possible way to keep up. Since Sandy Hook, there has been nearly one school shooting per week in America. Instead of addressing each of them to further prove a need for stricter gun control, we look past them, and it has to end.
 
Currently, there are huge differences across state borders concerning gun laws. However, every state has some sort of limitations on the Constitutional right to bear arms. The dynamic of American gun laws is fairly complicated, but in short, those considered mentally unstable, convicted of a felony, dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces, who are perpetrators of domestic violence, or under the age of 18 cannot purchase a firearm. Those who are qualified but under the age of 21 cannot purchase any firearm other than a shotgun or rifle.
 
For the most part, these restrictions are generally accepted. But it isn’t enough. Violent, unstable people still manage to get their hands on firearms, both legally and illegally. The least we could do is initiate stricter background checks, limit the sale of automatic weapons, or even raise the minimum age to purchase guns. At this point, it isn’t about political views or personal opinions. It’s about saving lives. Guns may not kill people on their own, but people with guns have a much easier time killing, and killing many more, than those without them. We aren’t claiming to have all the answers, but we do know that something must be done.
 
It used to be that a person had to be walking alone down a dark alley to fear being shot, but that isn’t the case anymore. We aren’t safe while seeing a movie, going to church, or even learning at school.  We are at the point where a website called “Mass Shooting Tracker” exists in order to keep count of every person shot in a mass shooting in the U.S. We are at the point where more young Americans die annually from guns than cars. We are at the point where we can’t debate any longer. We must act, and act soon. Immunity to gun violence is acceptance of gun violence, and America is a greater nation than the sum of its shootings.
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