Saoirse L. Washington

Gun Violence in the U.S.

Gun Violence is one of the most serious issues plaguing our country

To the next president of the United States,

So far in 2016 over 45,000 people have been injured or killed in incidents of gun violence ( The issue of gun violence in this country needs to be given the attention that an issue of this severity deserves. Serious gun control laws must be implemented to prevent future violence. Our weak gun control laws must be improved and added to. Guns and ammunition are too accessible, which leads to the massive amount of shootings taking place every year.

To create an environment in which this violence does not take place we must vote for those who take these issues seriously into office and lobby for laws to prevent shootings. Simple steps taken by everyone in our country will make a large difference in the deaths caused by guns. In a country where 45,000-gun violence incidents take place every year, we cannot just tolerate that as part of our lives, we have to take action and change the path of our country.

The United States has the highest rate of gun deaths of any developed country in the world. “Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed by guns than people in other developed countries, a new study finds” (Preidt) writes Robert Preidt, further proving my point . Another example of our shocking gun violence rate is  “the Commonwealth sees its share of gun violence; there were 78 murders committed with guns in the state in 2013 alone(Massachusetts)” writes Sandro Galea, this is merely an example of the horrendous gun violence plaguing our country, this equal to the total deaths by gun violence in some countries. As a nation how can we stand by and let our country earn this reputation? For example, in the United states you are equally likely to die in a car accident as you are to be shot to death (Quealy, Sanger-Katz). We need to advance our gun laws to live up to our and other’s hopes and aspirations for this country.

The cause of these horrifying statistics is our weak and minimal background checks and control over what can and cannot be sold. These laws allow for assault weapons to be bought easily with little resistance. Many states do not require a license to purchase an assault weapon, only California, Connecticut, Hawaii and New Jersey require licenses to buy firearms of all kinds ( This essentially means that in all other states people can buy weapons and ammunition with minimal to no background checks and no license or permit, basically even those with mental illness and those who want to harm others can buy these weapons with no resistance. Allowing guns to get into the hands of these people is what has caused many mass shootings in past years, in fact in court most suspects in mass shooting cases have pled insanity. Weak laws are letting guns get into the hands of the mentally ill and often even those who want to keep guns out of a person’s hands cannot. In 2012 at Cafe Racer in Seattle a man shot five people even after his family attempted to get the police to restrict his access to firearms but could not do so until he committed a felony despite his suicidal and violent condition (Bellisle, Brissey). This act of violence was easily preventable, it is sickening, laws like I-1491 on the ballot this year in Washington are needed across the country to begin preventing these shootings. Sadly we cannot change what has already happened although we can learn from this and take steps to change our future.

Furthermore the guns being used in the mass shootings in past years have no purpose other than to take life. I accept that people should be allowed to own guns used for hunting, target shooting, and those that are regarded as ‘antique’, although we should not sell weapons such as assault rifles, primarily the AR-15 and the AK-47, “Often the rifles are variants of the AK-47, the world's most abundant firearm, an affordable and simple-to-use assault rifle of Soviet lineage that allows a few people to kill scores and menace hundreds” writes author C.J. Chivers on these guns (Chivers). Both of those gun models are readily available to the public with minimal background checks, in many states they do not even require a background check, they are also fully automatic and designed to kill  (Galea). Guns like this have been used in most mass shootings in past years, to quote author C.J. Chivers, “In recent years they have also been descendants of the AR-15, the American military's response to the Kalashnikov's spread. Semiautomatic versions of the AR-15 were used by sympathizers of the Islamic State in San Bernardino, Calif., in 2015, and a Mini-14 and an MCX, rifles that fire the same cartridge as the AR-15 and compete with it for market share, were used in the mass shootings in Norway in 2011 and in Orlando, Fla., in June” (Chivers). So why are they still being sold to people after we have seen what they can do? If they have no purpose other than to kill what are they being sold to do? I'm sure that everyone in this country could live without these weapons and removing them is the first step. In doing so we would prevent weapons of destruction from reaching the hands of those who would use them violently. The way to restrict the buying in selling of these guns primarily tighter gun laws. I acknowledge that criminals will still be able to receive these weapons but it is a step in the right direction that hopefully, could lead to a less violent future.

Many opponents of my claim would state that the way to prevent shootings is to get guns into the hands of the American people as a method of defense. The only effect that more guns would have is in fact the opposite, using basic logic, more guns would only make shootings more likely. The more people who have guns the more people will have the opportunity to take another person’s life. In the end the only people who should carry a weapon are those trained in law enforcement, and even when they're wielding the weapons we have seen police wrongfully shoot many people, especially recently. If those who are trained are making that many mistakes imagine the deaths caused by untrained, unchecked, biased, and potentially mentally ill civilians carrying these weapons.  Tighter gun laws must be implemented to prevent future violence, Hillary Clinton’s proposed ban on all assault weapons is a step in the right direction. But if we are to truly put an end to this we need the effort of the next president and more importantly the American people, what will you do?

West Seattle High School

6th period LA9H

Hopkins Honors Introduction to Literature

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