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Gun Policy Change Is a Must After MSD

Lorie+Shaull+via+Flickr
Lorie Shaull via Flickr

Lorie Shaull via Flickr

Lorie Shaull via Flickr

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It has been three weeks since the senseless, brutal murders of 17 students and teachers at Stoneman Douglas High School. The community and the victims’ families and friends, which includes some of us, remain shocked at this violent act. Yet, sadly, this was just another crushingly familiar mass murder. Since the Columbine massacre nearly twenty years ago, there have been 208 school shootings. After many of the shootings, there has been a call for limits on gun sales, most recently when even President Trump called for an end to “bump stocks,” such as the ones used in the Las Vegas shooting.

Unfortunately, the limits have always been stymied by anti-gun control advocates led by the National Rifle Association. The students at Stoneman Douglas say “Never Again.” People are listening. Even Governor Scott, who has been a staunch advocate against gun control in the past, has supported age-limits on the purchase of certain weapons and stronger background checks. These limits though are being coupled with attempts to arm teachers in a new bill passed by the Florida Senate.  I do not think more guns are the answer.

The United States, with just four percent of the world’s population, has nearly half the world’s privately owned guns. No other developed country has as many gun murders or suicides as we do; the closest country has one tenth the murder rate by guns as we do. There are 33,000 deaths caused by guns in our country yearly. That is over 600,000, since Columbine. The NRA cannot say that guns have made our country safer, proven by these relevant statistics.  

The Founders, when crafting the Constitution, did not make weapons the centerpiece of their effort. The Preamble to the Constitution lays out their goals: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”  Gun violence destroys domestic Tranquility; it robs us of the Blessings of Liberty and decimates the general Welfare.

Constitutional rights are not boundless.  Even the First Amendment does not make free-speech an absolute right. You cannot yell “fire” in a theatre. There are already restrictions on the right to bear arms. No one can legally own land mines or machine guns. There is room for common-sense gun control. We must put an end to the madness. And we can. As one of the Stoneman Douglas students put it, “Where are the adults?” We must be the adults now and continue to pressure our leaders. We must remain active and engaged. If our elected officials cannot bring gun violence under control, we must help elect new leaders who can.

Sources: USA Today, NBC News, Miami Herald, Washington Post, Vox, CBS News, fivethirtyeight, Oyez, Reuters

Photo Source: Flickr

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