In the 1990’s, “Where’s Waldo?” was frequently banned because of a topless sunbather. In 2010, a Southern California school board banned the Merriam-Webster dictionary from elementary schools due to definitions of sexual acts. Kinder Eggs, chocolate eggs with toys inside, were banned in the United States until 2017.
Images, provocative definitions, and toys have been banned, yet it is legal to purchase and own military-grade weapons.
Since the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, there have been at least 1,956 mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive. In those almost 2,000 shootings, there were 2,229 deaths and 8,166 people injured. There were 346 mass shootings in 2017, 340 in 2018, and 31 so far in 2019. Of the mass shootings last year, 65 were school shootings. Sixty-five school districts and communities were shaken up and had to grieve the young lives that were taken too soon from this Earth, in large part because many states do not have strict enough regulations on purchasing guns.
The Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as an event where four or more people are shot, not necessarily killed, in the same general time and location.
Though mass shootings certainly dominate the media coverage of gun deaths in the United States, they represent only a small portion of gun deaths in the nation. For instance, according to the CDC, in 2016, almost 40,000 people died of gun-related injuries, the majority of which were suicides, with the next category being homicides.
As students, we are lucky to live in California, and that isn’t because of Disneyland or the sunny weather. It’s because we live in one of the strictest states in the nation when it comes to gun control. California is among the five states that contain the strictest gun regulation, along with New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts. Soon, Oregon may be added to the list.
According to the Statesman Journal, a new bill is in the works for Oregon, Senate Bill 501. If passed, it would require citizens in Oregon to obtain a permit before purchasing a gun, limit the amount of ammunition a person could buy, outlaw magazines (a chamber for holding a supply of cartridges to be fed automatically to the gun) with a capacity of more than five rounds (California has a limit of 10-20 rounds), and lastly, create gun locking and storage requirements.
This is a huge development, and if this bill were to pass, its success could start a chain reaction and motivate other states to follow in pursuit.
This is not to say that we should not have the right to bear arms; every person was born with the right to defend him or herself. However, there should be more regulation when it comes to the purchase and registration of weapons. This could include a psychological evaluation, purchasing a permit ahead of time, limiting how many rounds one can purchase, and requiring people to carry identification when purchasing weapons.
Times have changed drastically. For instance, the majority of us no longer hunt for our food or have to protect ourselves from wildlife. So, the government needs to update their stance on guns. Rather than banning spitting on the sidewalk (Arizona) or placing strict rules on trick-or-treating (Delaware), they need to take a serious look at gun legislature across all states.
This generation and the future generations shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not this will be their last breath, and they shouldn’t have to live in constant fear. I hope that Americans will push Congress and the government to advance gun control laws and ensure not only that we make it home to our families, but also to graduation, college, our first professional job, marriage, children, and many more milestones to come.