Why Gun Control Laws are Necessary

Reagan Woody, Reporter

By Reagan Woody 

The topic of gun control has become a very prominent issue on Capitol Hill. According to qz.com, there is a 60% chance that a mass shooting could occur on any given day in the United States. A mass shooting can be defined as a shooting with at least 4 victims, harmed in an indiscriminate manner. With over 130 shootings this year, hundreds of lives have been affected and taken by these horrible tragedies. Many Americans are pushing for gun control laws to be passed to help prevent a variety of situations, such as domestic violence, suicide, and future mass shootings. So the question is, if guns cause this many problems, then why are they legal? Do guns kill people, or do people kill people?

In Virginia, you have to be at least 18 years old to purchase a shotgun or rifle from a licensed firearms dealer. If you wish to purchase a handgun, you must be at least 21 years of age. These rules are also the same with ammunition for the corresponding weapon (18 for rifle and shotgun, and 21 for handgun). You must be a citizen to purchase any type of gun, and you must pass a background check before buying one. 

According to the Virginia State Police, another step in obtaining a firearm is filling out an in-person application for one at a local law enforcement office. By filling out these applications, preventative measures are put in place to help prevent firearms from getting into the hands of the wrong people. If you are trying to purchase a gun for personal concealed weapons usage, then you must apply for a gun permit. You may only have one gun per permit. Handguns are allowed out in public as long as they are concealed, and you have a valid permit to carry one. 

Another type of firearm that is a bit harder to obtain are assault rifles. Assault rifles, like the AR-15, are legal in all states except California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and the District of Columbia. 

Though they are banned in certain states, there are no federal laws that restrict the manufacturing, selling, and purchasing of assault rifles. In 1994, a ban on assault rifles was put into place, but it expired in 2004. This ban has not been reenacted. 

Assault rifles are designed for the purposes of war. Assault rifles are also used in 26% percent of gun related incidents. These types of firearms pose an extremely dangerous risk to the public. Assault rifles are different from handguns and shotguns because they can fire multiple bullets at a rapid pace. Assault rifles are also the most commonly used firearms in mass shootings due to their superior fire rate. With different types of assault rifles being so dangerous yet easy to obtain, do we have enough safety precautions put in place? 

Once a person passes their background check, submits their application, and obtains a gun permit, then they can easily walk out of a store with a new gun in minutes. When you stop to think about it, why do everyday people feel the need to purchase guns? 

Well, many people purchase guns for a multitude of reasons. Some people purchase guns to use as their concealed weapon. Some people purchase guns to use in hunting or sporting events. Then there are the people who purchase guns for malicious purposes, such as mass shootings. 

As Congress stands divided on what to do, many arguments for both pro-gun laws and anti-guns laws have been made. The first argument that I see anti-gun law people use deals with what the Constitution has to say abouts guns. The Second amendment, which states the right to bear arms, was first written in 1791. In the original amendment, it states “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” 

Now, even though we do live by the Constitution, we in the past have made changes to it to fit the morals, needs, and values of our present society. For example, Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution said that any person who was not a free individual, or a slave, counted as three-fifths of a person when voting for Congressional representation. Basically, this article was put in the Constitution to prevent slaves from having a full vote. Would we still live by this in today’s world? No! This article remained in the Constitution until 1865 when the 13th Amendment was passed, repealing Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution. Writing the 13th amendment to repeal Article 1 Section 2is an example of removing a law that would be very harmful in our current society. If we can revise Article 1, Section 2, then just why can we not revise the 2nd Amendment? 

Another argument that I commonly see is the “It’s my freedom to own a gun,” and you are right. You do have the freedom to own guns; however, when these guns are hurting other people, amends need to be made. While I believe that we need to have tighter gun laws, I also believe that some guns should be legal. If you have passed your background check and have obtained your necessary permits, then you should be allowed firearms when using them for safe activities. For example, I believe that you should be able to own rifles for hunting purposes, or have legal concealed firearms for self protection reasons. 

Where I believe the issue lies is with the right to own assault rifles. With these being so easy to get, everyday citizens do not need guns that are designed for war. Going back to the second argument, people also have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Some of these dangerous weapons that are being used in an ill manor violate the first part to those three freedoms. When you weigh it out, what is more important: owning a gun or a person’s life? 

Another reason that I believe that we should have gun control laws is to help prevent the sale of firearms illegally. Research shows that most illegal weapons are bought through the black market. This market is where many criminals purchase their weapons when they are unable to pass their background check.

The final reason that I believe tighter gun laws should be put in place is to protect the next generation of people. For example, decades worth of school shootings in America have rocked all of our worlds, especially those of victims and their families. From Columbine, to Sandy Hook, to Parkland, we have lost many bright, young, innocent lives to gun violence. More gun protection laws would also help end domestic violence attacks in families. If we want kids to grow up in a safe and secure way, then tighter gun laws are necessary. 

According to the White House, there are seven plans for gun laws that the Biden-Harris administration are working on enacting. The first plan aims to ban ghost guns, which are kits with almost all pieces to build guns that are typically sold to criminals through the black market. Ghost guns are illegal because, if found at a crime scene, there would be no way to track it due to a lack of a serial number. 

A second plan that is being discussed would change rules about how stabilizing arm braces, more commonly known as stocks, are used. For example, if a regular pistol had a stabilizing arm brace, then it would turn into a short-barreled firearm, which would not meet the requirements of the National Firearms Act. For example, during last week’s shooting in Boulder, Colorado, the shooter had a stabilizing arm brace. This made his firearm more stable and accurate, but still concealable. If this plan were to go into effect, then in 60 days arm braces would be illegal for concealed weapons. 

A third plan that is being reviewed is a plan to introduce “red flag” legislation. This law would allow families to receive a court order to prevent their family members with severe mental health issues from being able to access firearms. While President Biden urges Congress to help pass this as a national law, this also gives state legislation room to adopt this law as well. 

The fourth plan for tighter guns laws is one to implement community-based gun violence interventions to help reduce gun violence. The Biden-Harris Administration is proposing that over an 8 year course, they invest eight million dollars towards gun-violence intervention plans in big cities. As homicide rates are up in urban locations, this plan of action would help prevent future gun-related incidents. 

The fifth topic of discussion for guns laws is a plan to issue an annual report of gun trafficking. This goes along with the “ghost guns” rule. The Justice Department would annually issue a thorough, detailed report on firearms trafficking. 

The sixth plan is to ban the production of assault weapons and high capacity magazines. This law would get weapons of war out of reach of everyday citizens and off of our streets. The final proposal is that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms have an official and confirmed director. The ATF helps regulate and enforce our current gun laws, but it is essential that it has a confirmed director. The ATF has not had a confirmed director since 2015, and President Biden is leaning towards nominating David Chipman to serve in this position. As the Biden-Harris administration continues to work on enacting more gun control laws, we can only hope that the right steps will be taken to help end America’s gun violence epidemic.