Dear Future President,
I am a 16 year old girl more likely to die at school than walking around Chicago alone. Or at least, that’s how it can feel. Guns are getting out of control- but yeah, there’s the 2nd amendment. I know. I’m not asking for the outright ban of all guns- that’s too much. All I’m asking is for stricter background checks and regulations, the ban of conceal and carry, and for the government to stop the excuses that promote a nasty stigma in citizens.
Background checks should not be as controversial of an issue as they actually are. Is it so hard for people to agree that someone unstable, with a violent history or otherwise at risk of killing someone shouldn’t own a weapon of mass destruction? Because that’s what a gun is- a weapon of mass destruction. Is it so hard to ask that it’s guaranteed that anyone to get a gun should have to go through as many gun safety classes as they would before getting behind the wheel of a car? I live in a state that does not require live firing training before someone can be issued a conceal and carry permit. I didn’t know this before the writing of this letter. Now I do and I feel all the less safe for it. Before driving a couple ton vehicle around, I need 30+ hours of class time, to pass a learners permit test, have that for 6 months, have 21+ hours of driving and so on to actually get a license. A gun kills as easily, if not more easily, than a car. If that’s the case, then where are the class hours? The requirements upon requirements. Because the United States of America had 90 mass shootings from 1966 to 2012. Australia has had maybe 1, from 1996 to 2015. About .05 a year to about 2 a year. Just mass shootings. Not counting those accidental shootings from morons in the United States, those people who shot themselves in the foot when cleaning their gun. Legal permits don't prevent them from shooting themselves in the foot. Requiring people to be taught how to handle their gun is not too much to ask.
In terms of regulations, this feels like a "no brainer", yet gun safes aren’t required by law. I lived in Illinois most of my life, and the house I lived in there had a story I’m sure’s been told a hundred different ways, a thousand different times. A 14 year old killed his mother with a .22 caliber rifle. Of course, locking it up might not have prevented her injury, but maybe it could have prevented her death. I’m not naming the parents as irresponsible; I’m naming the law. If a family can’t necessarily afford a safe, and if it’s not required by law, it’s not going to be above getting food and water and everything else necessary to live. I live in a house with guns. They’re kept in a safe, though. Locked away where no one can get to them but my mom’s boyfriend and maybe her as well. Regulations like this are easy to keep up with, and while they may cut down on how many guns are bought a year they’ll also cut down on the amount of lives lost due to gun violence each year. Lives lost due to children finding a gun. To mere stupidity causing it to be set off.
Of course, another hot topic is conceal and carry. I have some personal stories about this, but I feel like more impersonal ones speak for themselves. The least of which the case of a man in Virginia patrolling an absentee voting station with a 357 magnum. His permit was valid and everything; he couldn’t be removed from the premises. One woman was essentially accosted by him, asked if she was voting for ‘Crooked Hillary’ when it’s none of his business. But if a man with a gun comes up to you and your child and he acts as though if you disagree with him you’ll be shot, what can you do. She called the police; they could do nothing. It’s a secret ballot for a reason, but how can something remain private when it feels like it’s that information or running away in exchange for your life. Then there’s the reported ‘worst nightmare’ of a conceal and carry instructor, the woman who last year shot at a guy who stole maybe a thousand dollars worth of merchandise. She just grabbed her gun and shot at him and his car. She had a valid permit, but this is where her mind went when someone just stole some stuff. No gun was turned on her. To wrap it all up, let’s call it the Texas Massacre, a group of people thought it would be a good idea to stage a mass shooting on a university campus- complete with fake blood, bullet sounds and the collapse of the ‘dead’. All this to promote conceal and carry on school campuses. This shows the mindset of at least a portion of conceal and carry supporters, and how can these people be the sort allowed to carry around a deadly weapon - people clearly at least moderately unstable to think that this is a good idea. It’s the case with explosive cell phones and it should be the case here- a few bad ones spoil it for everybody else.
While looking up articles to support my points in this letter, I came across quite a few about mental illness. It’s often an excuse for the government and supporters of guns in all forms. Mental illness is why there are so many shootings- just keep guns out of their hands and everything’s solved. That’s a blatant lie, though, that merely drives us backwards. Most people with a mental health issue aren’t violent and it does no good to preserve that vision of them being violent, and thus a stigma that just adds to the antiquated appearance of society. According to the New York Times in an article covering the topic, “...less than 5 percent of gun homicides between 2001 and 2010 were committed by people with diagnoses of mental illness, according to a public health study published this year" (2015). To blame every gun homicide on someone mentally ill is like blaming a cup of water added to a lake for a flood. Useless and disproportionate. You cannot claim that this doesn’t happen to boot- the New York Times quotes Paul Ryan (the speaker of the house at the time) in the same article, “‘People with mental illness are getting guns and committing these mass shootings.’” He perpetuates this point of view. This should not be defended- it will only lead to chaos and misery for those legitimately mentally ill and nonviolent. Numerous other sources also defend the mentally ill, talking about how what overlap there is isn’t glaring or the only thing to be looking at and true statistics and facts. The fact of the matter is that however likely someone mentally ill may be to commit a violent act, this doesn’t mean that it’s all their fault. It just means that there are flaws in the system and those flaws need to be repaired before anyone will truly be safe. A mentally ill person is still a person. Just a person. The faults of our government were not made to be put on their shoulders alone and our government's problems are not their fault anymore than they’re the fault of any other one person. They do need guns kept out of their hands, but this is the government’s job, to make and keep up with these rules and laws that will prevent someone at risk of a violent outburst from getting a gun. But sometimes the government just isn’t effective enough at doing this and needs to be better at keeping guns out of the hands of violent people- mentally ill or not.
Of course, there is always the elephant in the room- the Second Amendment. The right to bear arms. Should carrying a gun really be a right, though, or should it be a privilege? It’s a privilege to drive a car- to be president. People in both of these positions (driver and president) have ample situations where the life of another is in the their hands. Vietnam, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, at an intersection with some kid darting across, picking up the keys after drinking. Both of these positions are at odds with causing death. So is the owner of a gun. I shot a gun once. It was terrible to be completely honest. I was with my brothers and my mom’s boyfriend; I shot at a target attached to a tree. All I could imagine was what if someone had this weapon, a weapon of mass destruction and was gunning for me. Or one of my little brothers. Or was just an idiot who shot into the woods without caring, not realizing what could happen. In hope of preventing this, tightening restrictions isn’t much to ask. If it’s a little harder to get a gun, that’s worth it to save a life. It won’t stop gun violence altogether, of course, but it will keep guns out of the hands of hundreds of people who could hurt someone. Limiting who can buy a gun and where it can be carried does not cut down the ideas of the Second Amendment; it guarantees that those responsible enough to utilize it will continue to be able to utilize it. Rules and regulations are, of course, better than the complete banning of anything.
Please legitimately think about this, future President. Think about your children, your grandchildren. Think about their safety and ask yourself how you would feel if it was them walking through their schoolyard to get into school. Walking through a schoolyard where someone could be toting a gun, an unstable person with a permit walking around and waiting. My proposition, based off of what I’ve presented, is that you enact legislation that requires anyone who buys a gun to undergo an evaluation of their mental state from 1 or more qualified professionals or otherwise prove their mental stability, to prove that they have the proper supplies in their home to store their firearm(s) and have undergone at least 30 hours of firearm training and understand how to operate one completely. I also request that you ban conceal and carry or at least double everything I mentioned previously for someone to be able to have a conceal and carry permit. Thank you for your time.