No Change in Gun Law Despite an Irregular Amount of Shootings

Matthew Kelly, Staff Writer

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The words “United States” bring along with it many different impressions: We are the land of opportunity, land of liberty and seemingly, the land of mass shootings. Americans have a unique and everlasting relationship with their guns, yet recent tragedies have called into question how we interpret the second amendment and more so how the amendment fits into America today. These mass shootings make up a minuscule portion of gun deaths, but due to their horrific nature, these events attract enormous attention in the country. This scrutiny puts gun legislation in the spotlight, and rightfully so. Yet the legislation proposed is not effective in mitigating mass shootings and aims mostly at reducing gun violence as a whole.

In an emotionally charged and polarizing debate, it is easiest to start with the common ground, yet even that is hard to find. After analyzing various gun control studies, The Washington Post found that the differences lie in the lack of definition given to the words, the best example being “mass shooting” itself. Politifact stated “There’s no legal definition, and as prominent gun violence researcher Garen Wintemute of the University of California at Davis told us, ‘there isn’t a right and wrong here.’” With these words left up to interpretation, the discussion around gun control has gathered little hope of solutions and spurred even greater debate.

Despite the disagreements, most Americans can agree that mass shootings have a special home within our borders and urge that something must change. Basic gun law legislation, such as background checks, have proven extremely effective, blocking 2.4 million gun sales from 1994 to 2012. Gun laws like these improve the safety of communities without restricting gun ownership to law-abiding citizens. When it comes to laws like these Americans aren’t so antithetical; a Forbes article cited that 88% of Americans support comprehensive background checks. This isn’t the only example. In December 2018 president Trump banned bump stocks, a device which allows a semi-automatic rifle to fire like a machine gun and was used in the Route 91 Harvest music festival Shooting Oct 1, 2017.

However, the attention gathered behind mass shootings often pushes for legislation concerning the legality of various types of guns, specifically rifles. But gun laws which restrict which firearms can be owned don’t exactly translate into the subject of mass shootings. In both categories of mass murder and mass shootings, deadly “assault weapons” are severely outpaced by less intimidating handguns. Thus gun laws banning the more intimidating gun will not have the drastic effect you might expect.

It is these laws, spurred by horrifying shootings but yielding legislation, that are ill-equipped to make a positive change.