It was loud. It was powerful. I had never done anything like it. I was ten years old the first time I shot a gun. I was 11 when I killed my first upland game bird with one. I was 12 when I killed my first deer. I grew up around guns, and everyone in my family owns guns. That doesn’t make me crazy or dangerous. It makes me knowledgeable and aware through first hand experience of what guns can do.
To me, “gun” isn’t some dirty word. It’s a word that demands respect and knowledge. People all over American carry guns on a daily basis. Not just cops and military, but civilians, too, law-abiding and otherwise. Despite the majority belief in our little Silicon Valley bubble, 56% of Americans think the state of the US would be safer if more people carried concealed weapons, according to a 2015 Gallup poll.
But let’s be clear: a handgun like a Beretta 92 is not a semi-automatic weapon like an AR-15 rifle, which has been used in multiple school shootings. The latter is a powerful weapon which, in the hands of the wrong people, becomes quite dangerous.
As a “gun-toting” Republican, I would like to state that I, like the majority of Republicans, believe that some gun control is necessary. Not everyone should have access to guns and not every type of gun should be available to the public. The gun control debate shouldn’t be “take away guns vs let’s all carry AK-47s around.” There is a happy medium in there somewhere.
In Florida, the shooter used an AR-15, a semi-automatic “assault rifle” that usually uses larger caliber bullets. Even though it is military style, many use it for hunting large, 200 lbs+ game such as moose, elk, deer and bears. With game of this size, a larger caliber bullet is necessary. However, there are other rifles of the same caliber and power that could be used to hunt instead–and should be. There’s no reason for a civilian to have an AR-15
Also, while the federal government requires background checks on all people buying a gun at a licensed dealer, this doesn’t include the black market, gun shows, or unauthorized stores and persons selling weapons. Often these weapons can be modified illegally as well. The background check by the government does not include a background check of those living with you, which is a problem.
Gun control will help, but it really is just a Band-aid. In order to instill lasting change, we as a society need to look at why these mass shootings are happening. Violence runs rampant in mainstream media. “Colt .45” by Afroman is often blasted in car speakers. Video games like Call of Duty, Fortnite, Grand Theft Auto and much more showcase assault rifles and killing. With social media, bullying has been taken to the next level.
Moreover, 1 in 5 teens suffer from serious mental disorders according to the Office of Mental Health. According to the Department of Justice, 1 in 15 children are exposed to domestic violence. All of these factors can make a person acclimated to violence.
School shootings don’t have to be the norm. More often than not, shooters display warning signs, 42% according to Everytown Research. The government, and those who know these people, need to be more proactive in following up with these signs.
How can you make a difference? Don’t bully and don’t be a bystander either. Register to vote so you can vote to enact the gun control you see fit. Become aware of mental health. Don’t endorse violence in media. Go to the NRA website and learn more about guns and gun safety. Even with gun violence, education is ultimately key.
Like it or not, guns are here to stay. Not everyone needs to own one, or carry one, or have an assault rifle, but it is our right to own them. Just like there are limitations on free speech to keep others safe, some limitations need to be placed on the right to bear arms.