The Collegian
Thursday, February 29, 2024

Opinion: gun progress must start with the end of the NRA

Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Charleston and most recently Umpqua are the sites of some of the most infamous mass shootings in American history. Year by year, this list continues to grow. When will it stop?

If not stop, then when will it ease off, decline or shrink in the slightest bit? As a country, we cannot continue to do nothing about this issue, if we do, the harsh realities of the families of the victims will become the reality for us as well.

The reduction of mass murders must first start with the dismantling of the NRA. This organization has dominated the political arena and has forced a tug of war concerning gun legislation, as it is the largest special interest group in the United States. It derives its control from its enormous network of supporters who raise hundreds of millions of dollars to influence Washington.

The response by the NRA to these school shootings has often been a short period of silence, or my personal favorite, turning “gun free zones” in schools and public places into zones where officials and citizens are able to carry guns.

Besides the obvious threat to the health and lives of even more students and teachers, removing the gun free zones would face enormous political opposition as most Americans are rational, and would not want weapons in the incredibly vulnerable social atmosphere of any school.

Enough is enough, we have to stop allowing politics to decide the fate and lives of our citizens. The political clout and economic power of the NRA is not more important than the lives of the thousands of people who are victims to gun violence each year.

This organization stands on the beliefs that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” and that we should address the mental health problem in America in order to fix the gun violence problem. While, surprisingly, people do kill other people, guns are used as the most accessible and effective method at killing large groups of people within a short period of time unlike any other weapon.

These guns are so accessible in some parts of the nation, that during gun shows, the buying and selling of firearms are so unregulated that unlicensed individuals are able to sell their guns without any background check. This is known as the gun show loophole, something the NRA adamantly denies exists.

Equally unsettling is the absurd and completely senseless passage of firearms to relatives, friends and others from firearms purchased not only through gun shows but through other methods as well. The private transfer of firearms is incredibly dangerous as there is often little formal training on how to properly use the firearm. Additionally, the individuals who attain these firearms do not go through a background check.

Because of their accessibility, far too many people have guns and far too many guns are in circulation. There is about one gun in circulation for every person in the United States. I find this particularly disturbing, knowing that Americans have greater access to guns than adequate healthcare or quality education.

It is a matter of priorities within our country. Today, in 2015, guns are not the priority, not over the thousands of lives that are taken. We should not have to hear about mass shootings in schools, or anywhere as often as we do today. No parent or loved one should have to experience the anguish of their student being murdered.

The lives of these victims are not a political issue, there is no other right more important than protecting our right to live. It is time that we stop thinking as individuals and start thinking collectively as mankind. The gun violence issue is complex, but it must first start with reducing accessibility to firearms and decreasing the control and support of the NRA. If we don’t, then I am afraid that these shootings will become even more frequent and closer to home.

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