Dear Mr./Madam President,
Gun control is a serious issue in our country and we need to change the laws regarding gun control to better fit the current climate of our country and the people in it. Just to be clear on what is meant by this, I am in favor of tighter gun control, but the way that we have set up past laws, murder rates have only gone up. So, we need to learn from our mistakes and fix the laws before even more people become a victim of gun violence.
The first big mass shooting that I remember was the one in Arizona, where Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot, along with 19 other people, six of which died. It made me wonder why someone would commit such a horrible act of violence. Since then, there have been dozens of mass shootings in America, that have brought the same thoughts into Americans, young and old alike. And while there are many things that drive a person to murdering countless others, our lawmakers need to make it so that it is not so easy for them to do so. However, according to justfacts.com, attempts to do so in places like Washington, DC and Chicago, murder rates have only gone up. But the thing about these two examples is that after the murder rates skyrocket, they decrease drastically after a couple of decades. After Chicago’s murder rate went through the roof from 1982, when its handgun ban went into effect. But after peaking in 1995, the murder rate dropped significantly. The Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that the ban was unconstitutional and was lifted that same year, but the murder rate was significantly lower that it was in 1982. Many would see this as a victory, proving that gun control does work, but it really isn’t because of the huge increase in murders from 1982 to 1995. The law would be a success if the rates are the laws are passed went and stayed down. So we need to find out why murder rates are going up when these laws are enacted and then fix them, so we do not end up repeating the past.
Another important issue regarding gun control, is looking at what kind of people have the access to and actually own guns. Take the Orlando shooter, who killed 49 people in a nightclub in Florida back in June 2016. According to the Los Angeles Times, this man had actually been on the FBI’s radar since May 2013 and had even been placed on a terrorist watchlist for a time. While the FBI determined that he was not a threat, that doesn’t always mean that they’re right, especially after he was involved in a second offense the next year, after becoming good friends with a man who would later commit a suicide bombing in Syria, in the name of the rebel group attempting to take over the country. The shooter, Omar Mateen, was no longer on a watchlist, but there were several signs that he could’ve been dangerous, up to three years prior to the attack. Now, I’m not saying that law enforcement wasn’t doing their job, but a man who the FBI investigated and people knew to be dangerous was also able to legally buy a semi-automatic carbine and use it to kill and wound 102 people. Many proponents of gun control have advocated that people on a terrorist watchlist should not be able to buy a gun, even if they are American citizens and I definitely agree with them. There needs to be a line between tradition and safety when it comes to the 2nd Amendment and gun control and we need to continue drawing the line, by denying dangerous people access to dangerous weapons. To this day, there are no federal laws that prohibit people on a terrorist watchlist from buying a firearm.
Finally, it’s important that we look at this from a moral standpoint as well, as that is where the idea of tighter gun control is deeply rooted. AR-15s, though they are not “assault rifles” and rather a “semi-automatic carbine,” have really one purpose: To shoot and kill people. According to taskandpurpose.com, the AR-15 is extremely similar to the M16, which is one of the US military’s top primary weapon selections and the latter was introduced in Vietnam due to the deficiency of the older rifles. Both weapons also use ammunition issued by NATO, arguably the most powerful military alliance ever established. So why is just anyone, including dangerous people, allowed to handle weapons that, when fired, can rip through multiple people at once? This was the same kind of weapon that was used to murder 28 people, 20 of them children, in Sandy Hook, after all. Many will say because the 2nd Amendment allows it and ensures that laws prohibiting owning guns will never exist. I don’t think that the Founding Fathers imagined that weapons like M16s or AR-15s would ever exist and were therefore more lenient what the 2nd Amendment said. The problem here again, is not the gun, but it’s level of accessibility to the general population. Weapons that were built for the military should stay in the military. If you enjoy using firearms for activities like hunting, use a hunting rifle, a weapon that wasn’t specifically manufactured to kill dozens of people with one magazine.
If this letter happens to fall into the hands of our next president, I dearly hope that they make the right choice on this issue. I’ve lost count of the number of days I’ve come home from school to a TV showing the death count from yet another mass shooting. It’s time that we rethink our gun laws, be more careful with who we are giving guns to and consider what kind of weapons we are giving the general public. Please make the right choice.