On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, thousands of people gathered in Richmond to protest the Virginia legislature's push for stricter laws regarding gun ownership.
Once passed, the new laws will enforce universal background checks, ban weapons from certain public locations and limit handgun purchases to one per month. A red flag law will allow law enforcement to remove weapons from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others.
These regulations come as a result of the epidemic of mass shootings sweeping not only our state but the nation at large. Since the horrifying Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, the number of mass shootings has only been rising. Just last May, 12 people were murdered in Virginia Beach. This event, in particular, seemed unfathomable to me, as Virginia Beach is so close to home.
Yet, it happened. And our previous administration responded by doing nothing.
I vehemently support the policies set in place by our legislature because I am desperate to see change. Our leaders have to protect us to the best of their ability, and comprehensive gun laws are unavoidable for that role.
When it comes to those opposing these new regulations, they are not losing their right to bear arms. Although restrictions are being reasonably placed to ensure that firearms are not used in a violent manner against innocent humans, guns are not being taken away completely.
The reality is that mass shootings have become a terrifying trend in our nation. Seventy-nine percent of adults feel stress related to mass shootings and 1/3 admit to avoiding certain places out of that fear. A majority of teens admit they worry about mass shootings happening at their school. Most Americans, including gun owners, do support gun control laws, as they are aware of the catastrophes that have taken place. Issues, then, arise when we tirelessly argue, without result, what specific measures should be taken.
But there is no step-by-step tutorial telling us how to end gun violence because we have never seen such an epidemic before. There is no solution that all of us will agree upon, but most Virginia residents support stricter gun laws.
And although the protesters in Richmond have every right to express their dissatisfaction with the concessions they will now have to make, I believe their opposition is misguided. The benefit of the new laws -- a strong chance of a safer future -- outweighs the costs. It's well past time to implement them.
Contact columnist Reda Ansar at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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