Calvin College Chimes

Opinion: Let’s talk gun control

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My heart goes out to all victims and families of victims of the Las Vegas shooting this past Sunday. I mourn for their pain and loss.

With at least 59 people dead and 500 people injured at the time of writing, it breaks my heart to realize that, again, so many people have fallen due to an attack like this. The sheer scale of this attack is almost too much for me to wrap my head around.

Yet again, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters — people who are just like you and me who have families — died. The dreams they were working hard to accomplish — irrelevant now.

This attack in Las Vegas is the newest Columbine, the newest San Bernardino and the newest Pulse nightclub. Each time we express our condolences, and each time nothing changes.

Can we be truly sorry for what happened when we don’t take action to remedy the situation? We need to start making strategic decisions instead of merely reacting to attacks. We need to put in our best effort to prevent another attack from happening. Reacting to whenever an attack happens is simply not enough.

The attacker in Las Vegas reportedly had 23 guns with hundreds of rounds of ammunition. He had modified a semi-automatic rifle with a “bump stock,” a perfectly legal device that allows for a semiautomatic rifle to shoot hundreds of rounds per minute.

How are bump stocks not illegal? For what good purpose can an American citizen use this device? Are we naïve enough to believe that modifications that allow for semiautomatic rifles to be used as machine guns can help make America a safer place?

According to a 2010 dataset by Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, World Health Organization, American Journal of Medicine, Grinshteyn and Hemenway, the US had rates of gun-related homicides 25.2 times higher than those of the average of other high-income countries such as Germany, France, Australia and the UK.

I am not narrow-minded enough to argue for an outright ban of guns all across the nation. I am aware of the fact that for every lone-wolf attacker with a gun, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of law-abiding citizens who possess guns. I am also aware of the fact that the second amendment protects the right to bear arms. But despite this, gun violence is an issue that cannot be shied away from.

Regardless of party affiliation, legislators should prioritize gun control laws that restrict who can buy guns. In addition, guns such as semiautomatic rifles should be outlawed for civilians. When the killer shot into the crowd, it did not matter whether or not someone was a Republican, Democrat or Libertarian. Until we stop turning gun violence into a political issue, people will continue to die.

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