The largest protest in American history took place on Saturday, March 24, dethroning the protests against the Vietnam War in the 60’s. March for Our Lives brought in an estimated 1.2 million people across the U.S., with an estimated 800,000 protesters in Washington, D.C., the largest recorded tally for a protest.
March for Our Lives was intended to change the tide in how America views guns and gun control after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, which resulted in 17 deaths. The protest stemmed from a movement launched by student survivors who hope to convince lawmakers to address the issue of gun violence and, in particular, school shootings.
One thing is clear from this; gun control laws have to change in some shape or form, whether that is banning assault style rifles or making the steps to obtain a gun more intensive. I believe that a child’s right to survive their school day without the fear of being murdered, or any citizen for that matter, outweighs other citizen’s rights for an AR-15 with a 30 round magazine.
I believe the reason why “March for Our Lives” is so monumental is that there has never been a movement this massive and strictly dedicated to gun control, putting pressure on Congress to discuss future gun control options.
While the idea of banning every gun in the U.S. is extremely unrealistic at the moment, if we introduce stricter gun control regulations right now, those effects may have a huge impact 10-15 years from now; starting with raising the age to buy a gun to 21.
Other steps and regulations that I think are reasonable and can have an impact are:
- Ban all assault style weapons and high capacity magazines, ban bump stocks, implement universal background checks for all would-be gun owners as well as a professional mental evaluation by a doctor.
- an the ability to be able to purchase guns at gun shows.
- Ban people on a no-fly list or watch list from obtaining a weapon.
- Introduce a federal database that tracks who owns a gun and what gun(s) that is, as well as putting a limit on how much ammo a person can buy in a certain time period.
A popular argument to gun control and ending gun violence is, “if a person wants to hurt someone or shoot up a school they’re going to find a way to do it anyway.” Yes, this is very true, but look at Australia and the U.K., where both countries have enacted very strict gun regulations after shooting sprees took place.
In 1996, Thomas Hamilton used legally owned handguns to kill 16 children, a teacher, and himself in Dunblane, Scotland. In 1987, Michael Ryan used an automatic rifle and pistol to kill 16 people. After both shootings, the government called for a gun amnesty and compensated gun owners for their weapons and more than 162,000 handguns were surrendered.
In Australia, which also had a massacre in Tasmania at Port Arthur in 1996 where Martin Bryant killed 35 people with a semi-automatic rifle. Australia’s Prime Minister at the time, John Howard, a known conservative leader who pushed back against gun lobbies and made changes to gun laws that included lengthy background checks for would-be gun buyers. He also banned all automatic and semi-automatic weapons and gave citizens compensation for those who turned in their weapons to the government.
The point that Australia and the U.K. have proven is that gun control doesn’t have immediate results; it takes time to see the fruits of the labor.
The Center for Disease Control and prevention surveyed multiple countries and their gun violence including Canada, the U.S., Norway, Australia, Sweden, the U.K., Japan and Portugal to name a few.
From years 2007-2012 they found that in England you have a better chance of dying due to a agricultural machine accident than dying to a gun. In Australia you have the same odds of falling off a building or structure and dying versus getting shot by a gun.
I understand that you cannot compare the U.K. and Australia’s success to the U.S.; they’re different cultures with different citizens and governments. However, they proved that it shouldn’t take hundreds of innocent citizens and children dying at the hands of one individual for the government to finally make a change. They have also proven that strict gun control can be a real feasible thing, and that it is capable of producing massive results not only in present time, but 15-20 years from now.