Time to enact common sense gun control solutions

By Will Khadivi

Will Khadivi

Hadiya Pendleton was an honor student at Chicago’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School. Early last year, Hadiya and a group of friends were hanging out in a city park after school. All of a sudden, a man ran towards her group of friends and started firing. He hit her in the back and she was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Hadiya had just returned back home from playing in her school’s marching band at President Obama’s second inauguration.

In 2013, 329 people were shot and killed in the city of Chicago. Throughout the entire United States, nearly 12,000 people were killed with guns last year.

The United States has a gun violence epidemic. Mass shootings have become a near-monthly event in our country. Each time, more and more people seem to tune it out and ignore it. It’s almost as if our country has just given up on pursuing solutions to this enormous problem because it was just too hard to fix.

Newtown was supposed to be different. In December 2012, 20 children and six adults were slaughtered at Sand Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. There was a sense of mourning in our country. How were we and our elected officials going to let those children die in vain? However, eventually as the political gridlock dragged on and huge special interest groups such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) spent millions of dollars to silence politicians, people gave up.

Groups like the NRA always blast gun control by likening it to the government going into people’s houses and ceasing their guns. In reality, what is being proposed are common sense laws that mirror those in other developed countries.

We must fix our countries’ broken background check system. About 40 percent of all guns purchased legally in the United States are purchased without a criminal background check at gun shows or on the street. We also must ban the sales and manufacturing of military-style assault weapons. These weapons serve absolutely no purpose other than for warfare and killing people and don’t belong on the streets of our major cities.

In addition to assault weapons, we must increase regulations on other types of guns. According to a study published earlier this year in Annals of Internal Medicine, simply by owning a gun increases you increase your risk of dying from suicide or murder by three times.

Gun ownership is especially a risk to children. According to a study published in the medical journal Pediatrics, nearly 10,000 children are killed or injured by guns every single year in the United States. Often these injuries happen as the result of a child finding a weapon in their household. Laws such as required a trigger lock on guns or requiring guns in the household be locked away would help to stop some injuries and deaths of children.

Common sense gun control laws such as background checks on gun purchases and bans of military-style assault weapons also have broad support of the public. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll from last year, a full 91 percent of Americans support background checks on all gun purchases. 91 percent. Additionally, a poll by the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in January 2013 found that nearly 7 in 10 Americans support a strong ban of military-style assault weapons.

While the U.S. Congress has failed to enact strong gun control legislation, several states such as New York, Connecticut, Colorado and California have enacted many of these common sense reforms. In Washington, voters will have an opportunity to vote on I-594 which would, if passed expand background checks to cover all gun purchases.

However, gun groups such the NRA are already planning to derail efforts. I-594 has a competing initiative on the ballot, I-591 which would do the exact opposite: make it so Washington’s background check law can’t be stricter than federal law. These two ballot initiatives are already confusing voters. A recent support showed that solid majorities supported both.

It’s difficult to comprehend reasons why people would be against common sense proposals such as expanded background checks. The only reason would be that people are buying into the fear caused by groups such as the NRA. Until people stop listening to the fear-based propaganda coming from national gun groups, we won’t have these needed laws and people will continue to die.