The freedom to bear arms impacts this country


Olivia Trone photographed by Isabella Kneeshaw.

Olivia Trone, Copy/Bilingual Editor

In the year 2022, upwards of 300 American school shootings and about 650 mass shootings occurred that resulted in injuries and deaths. It was marked as the most violent year for 12-17 year olds, and the second most violent in mass shootings of any year on record in the United States. As of Dec. 20, 2022, there were 300 shooting incidents on school grounds. That is an increase over the 250 shootings by December of 2021 and the 114 by December of 2020. In contrast, 2010 saw only 15 school shootings. Presidential administrations of the past few decades have had very different opinions on gun control, and that has created partisan disagreements between Democrats and Republicans. 

The Biden Administration has made strong efforts to mitigate gun violence. For starters, at the 2023 State of the Union address, President Biden expressed his desire for banning all assault weapons. In terms of real policy, Biden signed the bipartisan Safer Communities Act on June 25, 2022. It is the most significant gun policy since the expired assault weapon ban of 1994. The package included $750 million to help states establish crisis intervention programs and improve mental health, drug and veteran support. Additionally, it expressed support for red flag programs. The red flag law allows courts to take away firearms from anyone believed to be a danger to themselves or others. The legislation also pushes for more comprehensive background checks on all people looking to purchase a firearm, but specifically those between 18 and 21. 

The state with the most strict gun laws in America is California, which is also one of the states with the lowest gun-related mortality rate. On July 1, 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 2571, which does not allow the firearm industry to market their products to minors. He also signed AB 1621, restricting ghost guns (firearms that are purchased online and assembled at home) and the parts used to make them. On July 12, Newsom signed AB 1954, a bill requiring the gun industry to spread the idea of ​​“safe and responsible firearm industry member practices,” as stated directly by the legislation. AB 2156, signed on July 21, prohibits any person from manufacturing and/or selling firearms without a state-issued license. Lastly, Newsom signed SB 1327 on July 22. It permits private citizens to take civil action against anyone involved with assault weapons or ghost guns, both of which are banned in the state of California. The entire country should adopt laws as strict as California’s to decrease the number of school and mass shootings. 

The Second Amendment 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.” While the right to bear arms is protected, it is important to recognize that times have changed. This country no longer needs a well-regulated militia to ensure the security of a free state; therefore, our gun laws should be adjusted accordingly. The amendment is outdated and does not take into consideration the state of affairs now. Obviously access to guns increases shootings, which is why states such as Alabama and Mississippi have the highest rates of shootings, while California and Oregon have some of the lowest. The first step is to ban all assault weapons; there is no reason why somebody needs to fire 60 rounds a minute. Then, adding very strict limitations on who can purchase guns is the next step. 

Only when we can get our mass shooting numbers down to zero will we create a safe country.