Early this month, seven people were killed at Oikos University in Oakland, California. A former nursing student, upset that he had been expelled, entered a classroom, told the students to line up against the wall, and then opened fire. Each of the seven deaths that day is tragic. But just as tragic is the fact that thousands upon thousands of Americans are killed each year by guns, and nothing is being done about it. This must change.
The Second Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms, and Americans have taken full advantage of this right. There are currently around 270 million guns in America, nearly one for every person in this country. That is despite the fact that guns are created for only one purpose: to kill.
Guns have killed an average of more than 32,000 people per year over the last three decades, according to a report from the Firearm & Injury Center at the University of Pennsylvania. That’s almost a million lives that could have been saved if guns weren’t so easily available.
Gun advocates will argue that guns are necessary for self-defense, and that they have a right to protect themselves and their property. Yet a study from the American Journal of Public Health shows that areas with higher rates of gun ownership have significantly higher rates of gun fatalities. Additionally, people carrying guns are no less likely to be injured during a crime than unarmed people. In fact, guns increase crime rates rather than bringing them down. For every person killed by a gun, more than 35 others are victims of a crime that involved a gun, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
People are killed at work, at home, and like those at Oikos University, even at school. These are places that are supposed to be sanctuaries of safety, free from danger. But, as long as people continue to carry guns, no place is ever completely safe. Since the infamous Columbine massacre in 1999, there have been more than 170 deaths in school shootings, including 32 at Virginia Tech in 2007. And, as tragic proof that not enough is being done to eradicate gun violence on campuses, two more people were killed at Virginia Tech in 2011.
Despite all of this, gun advocates adamantly oppose any kind of gun regulation. The National Rifle Association pushes laws like Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, which famously led to the killing of Trayvon Martin in February. And politicians are quick to lend their support, with presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaking at the NRA’s annual convention last Friday to assure gun-owners that he’s on their side. They continue to believe that the solution to gun violence is to have more guns, when in fact the opposite is true. Quite simply, if there are guns around, they are going to be used to kill people.
This is a violent country, but it doesn’t have to be. Fewer people should have guns, and there should be fewer guns available. Laws making it easier for people to obtain guns are the cause and not the solution to the problem of gun violence. And, until people realize this, no one will be truly safe.