Every time a mass shooting occurs, Americans take to social media to debate and speak their opinions on what needs to be done to tackle the issue. Some argue about guns being the cause of mass shootings. Others attribute it to mental illnesses or believe that none of these things play a role in what goes through a shooter’s mind when they pick up a weapon and use it to harm others.
If I had any ability at all to influence the way our lawmakers and politicians make decisions in the wake of such tragic events like mass shootings, I would definitely suggest that we begin by implementing three things: a ban on assault rifles, more awareness and de-stigmatization of mental illnesses and more thorough background checks.
Banning assault rifles is at the top of my list because the most recent mass shootings we have witnessed in the United States have been executed with assault rifles such as AR-15s. These weapons have no business being in the hands of any ordinary American who went to a gun store and decided to purchase it just because they passed a quick criminal background check and could afford to do so. These guns are used by military professionals in acts of war and terror.
Americans should not use the Second Amendment to justify access to guns that are able to shoot 45 rounds a minute at a 550 meter range. In fact, when our founding fathers drafted the Constitution, muskets were only able to shoot three rounds per minute at a 50 meter range. This defense mechanism is outdated and does not properly reflect the caliber and technology that today’s assault rifles have and therefore should no longer be used to explain ownership of these guns.
The second suggestion of raised awareness and de-stigmatization of mental illnesses stems from the notion that many mass shooters are identified as “lone wolves” with mental illnesses that drove them to commit these acts of terror. If there were more societal awareness of the effects that mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder have on the human brain, perhaps these individuals would feel more free and inclined to seek professional help rather than allow their frustrations to build up until they reach their breaking point.
The third and final suggestion is more thorough background checks. Recently, Trump removed the gun regulation that Obama implemented after the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012 that would make it more difficult for mentally ill people to buy guns. With this regulation roll back, we’ve become more at risk that mentally unstable individuals will be able to get their hands on guns and use it to harm innocent people. If we reimplement this regulation and ensure that our background checks are conducted more thoroughly and strictly, perhaps we can find ourselves not allowing potentially dangerous people to own weapons that they should not possess in the first place.
These suggestions don’t necessarily guarantee that mass shootings will come to a crashing halt and that gun violence will never be a problem again, but at least it can be a starting point for our government to begin making the necessary changes to the law that can reduce the amount of times that Americans need to make another #PrayFor____ trend on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Maybe then we can stop grieving so many innocent deaths as often as we do.
Britny Sanchez is a senior majoring in political science.