No one needs to own heavy artillery

Jennifer Manalili

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Last December, the world watched as 20 students and six adults were killed in a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The ages of the students that perished ranged from six to seven-years-old.

What’s more troubling? In February, the Huffington Post reported that 1,280 gun related deaths have occurred in this country since Sandy Hook.

Weeks later, in March, Slate.com found the number had risen to over 2,000.

These events have become such a constant that a Twitter handle named @GunDeaths emerged, taking it upon itself to “tweet every gun death in North America regardless of cause and without comment,” to tell the stories behind the statistics.

The argument that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is true, so it surely makes it harder for people to get heavy artillery, assault weapons and copious amounts of high capacity ammunition can only prove beneficial.

Guns are meant to kill.

Unlike knives or cars, a gun’s sole purpose is to invoke death and destruction. When the children at Sandy Hook were killed, Adam Lanza killed them using a tool designed specifically to do exactly what he did: kill a high volume of people in a short period of time.

Knives and cars can be misused to kill someone, but a gun’s sole purpose is death and destruction. Killing someone is not a misuse of the gun; it is its intended purpose.

Our country is notorious for gun lenience yet we have the highest rate of gun ownership in the world, with 88.8 firearms for every 100 people according to gunpolicy.org.

The Washington Post reports that 15 of the 25 worst shootings in the last 50 years have occurred in this country. The second? Finland in a distant second with two, which coincidentally, has Europe’s most lenient gun laws.

Have a cold? In the U.S. it’s harder to buy Sudafed than it is to buy a gun.

Gun shows have become vehicles, notorious for selling to buyers without so much as asking for I.D. Background checks are not required either.

Is our country built on violence? Take Japan, whose history and pop culture remains more violent than American media, but produces some of the lowest crime rates, violent or not, in the world. In Japan, owning a gun is considered a privilege, not a right.

In “A Land Without Guns: How Japan Has Virtually Eliminated Shooting Deaths,” The Atlantic writes that to get a gun there, you must first attend an all-day class, pass a written test, take and pass a shooting range class and a mental and drug test —- potential gun owners must prove their mental fitness and file this with police —- and pass a rigorous background check “for association with criminal or extremist groups.” Documentation must also be provided to the police specifying the location of the gun and ammo in your home, and both must be stored and locked separately. Authorities are allowed to inspect the gun once every year and owners must re-take the class and exam every three years.

Australia has recently banned guns and has experienced a tremendous drop in gun related homicides —- plummeting 59 percent —- over the last decade according to The Huffington Post.

“I knew that I had to use the authority of my office to curb the possession and use of the type of weapons that killed 35 innocent people. I also knew it wouldn’t be easy,” said former Australian Prime Minister John Howard in the New York Times. He banned automatic and semi-automatic weapons in 1996 after the Port Arthur massacre, a killing spree that ended with 35 people killed and 23 others wounded that same year.

Americans should be able to protect themselves, yes, but there’s no need for weapons that are meant for an army. Think about it. When was the last time you heard about a family defending themselves from an intruder with a heavy assault rifle? When was the last time you heard of a school shooting?

When Columbine happened in 1999, it was shocking. At the time it was the largest school shooting in U.S. history.

Shootings are no longer a rarity, they are now a disturbing statistic, an epidemic. We are no longer surprised. Instead we shake our heads and ask “Again?”

The nation desperately needs to dedicate money and efforts to mental health awareness and laws that will restrict these statistics from growing.

It should’ve never gotten this far. When kindergarteners and first graders are being gunned down, surely we can can all agree it’s time for a change.

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