The American Problem


Photo courtesy of JP Photography

Cat Weber Sanguinetti, Editor

The United States of America is a nation in which freedom is its most advertised concept, with the Constitution existing as its justification: a constitution that was put in place in 1787 and is still used to this day as what our laws and government are shaped by. It might seem surprising that a document written 235 years ago is still used to justify the possession of semi-automatic rifles, the ban on abortion, and the neglect of numerous other issues that did not exist in the 1700s. Again, it might seem illogical that a government with a majority consisting of white men still uses a document created by and to serve that demographic. With gun culture making a surge, we must question how much longer we can stand by the Constitution. We must recognize that previously supported ideas are now outdated and do not serve the American people regarding gun control. 

So far in 2023 there have been more mass shootings than days in the new year in the United States alone. According to the CDC, gun violence is now the leading cause of death among children and teens. With gun laws and background checks virtually nonexistent, pro-gun politicians are increasingly abusing the second amendment. The second amendment states, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” 

The amendment clearly states that in the necessity of a militia, people have the right to keep and bear arms. This means that the right to arms is only prevalent in the occurrence of a militia which according to the Oxford Dictionary is, “a military force that is raised from the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency.” In the late 1700s, semi-automatic rifles did not exist, nor did the daily occurrence of mass shootings. Even though currently private citizens have the right to bear arms, these weapons are no longer being used as intended. The negligence of gun control is becoming a plague to the American people. 

The United States, over the decades, has presented virtually no plan to put in place stricter gun laws, even with only 6.06 million of the 393 million firearms in the US currently being registered. According to the BBC, between 1968 and 2017, there were 1.5 million deaths due to firearms in the US, which is more than the total number of US soldiers killed in all wars since the American War for Independence in 1775. Furthermore, politicians have continuously neglected the actuality that gun violence has entered schools, with more than 340 school shootings taking place since the Columbine High School massacre, where 2 gunmen killed 15 people and failed to set off a bomb. A Michigan State student who survived the recent college campus shooting spoke out about how she had now survived two school shootings. According to The Washington Post, since 1999, around 331,000* students have experienced gun violence, and the only things the government has had to offer these students are thoughts and prayers. These thoughts and prayers are coming from politicians drowning in NRA funding. 

The National Rifle Association is famous for giving millions of dollars to US senators to ensure no laws are put in place to shut them down or what they promote. Senator Mitt Romney is the highest receiver of NRA contributions in the Senate, receiving 13 million dollars. He also wrote after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, “Grief overwhelms the soul. Children slaughtered. Lives extinguished. Parents’ hearts wrenched. Incomprehensible. I offer prayer and condolence but know that it is grossly inadequate. We must find answers.” Senator Romney has never been an advocate for gun control while working in the Senate, and other Republican senators have shared their prayers. Still, they continue to demonstrate advocacy for the NRA. 

Another considerable part of gun control is background checks. The US has done practically nothing compared to other countries to ensure that the purchase of a gun is as safe as possible. The only step in obtaining a firearm in the US is to undergo an immediate background check that considers domestic violence, immigration status, and criminal convictions. The denial rate is only 1%. By comparison, in Switzerland, where gun possession is surprisingly high, there hasn’t been a mass shooting in 21 years. In the UK, after a shooting that killed over two dozen people, the country issued a ban on semi-automatic rifles and increased registration standards for other firearms. 

In the US, it’s harder to obtain a driver’s license, marriage license, abortion, solar panels, voter registration cards, and many other things than obtaining an assault weapon. 

America does recognize this issue, but it has become embedded as normal in US culture. It is dangerously becoming a background in all our lives and is no longer an “irrational fear.” The negligence of gun control has unveiled the truth about the NRA’s relationship with some members of our government. Doing everyday things, such as going to school, work, grocery shopping, etc, should not come with the chance of being murdered. The thought of gun violence in the back of our heads when we enter public places should not be there. Children and teenagers getting shot should not be happening. However, we have taught ourselves to tune out these things when it is the most dangerous thing to do. We all have to carry this heavy burden, but if we all tune it out, nothing will change. Gun violence never was, is, or will be normal; we just have made it that way.

*I originally wrote this last June, and I’ve edited it throughout the months. Sadly every time I came back to edit, I would have to update the number of students exposed to gun violence and the numbers never stopped going up.