In the aftermath of the horrific New Zealand shooting, many have flocked to their respective bases calling for gun law reforms. Such a tragedy as this should spark debate on appropriate policy initiatives to curb gun violence. But, before we blame all our problems on the machine, it’s time we take a look at those who wield them.
Not long ago, the Parkland shooter ended the lives of innocent children and instilled fear in countless communities. Before that came Sandy Hook, the Sutherland Springs church shooting and the Las Vegas shooting. Politicians loudly and proudly touted their opinions on the matter, and nothing happened to change the situation. The same thing has happened with the New Zealand shooting. Those calling for stricter gun laws may be getting at the wrong issue.
A study conducted in 2001 by Jeffrey Miron of Boston University found that, internationally, the correlation between gun ownership and crime rates is insignificant — if it exists at all. This is true in the U.S. as well. States like Illinois and California have implemented increasingly strict laws against gun ownership, but numbers of gun deaths per capita in those states is significantly higher than in places like Mississippi, where permits are not required in order to own firearms.
When we look further at recent mass gun attacks, it is clear that the perpetrators were deeply disturbed and showed this outwardly and publicly. The Parkland shooter, on multiple occasions, hinted at plans to attack the school, but law enforcement did nothing to stop it. The same was true of the Sutherland shooter, whose violent past should have warranted investigation by law enforcement.
Something grave is plaguing our society, and it can’t be solved by taking guns away from responsible citizens. The current form of changing gun laws has been unhelpful in bringing real change to gun violence. The phrase “common-sense gun laws” is thrown around often by politicians seeking sound bites that appeal to the masses. But what could true common-sense gun laws look like? How could Washington restore hope in communities blown apart by gun violence?
Two real and sensible solutions come to mind.
First, enforce the laws on the books. Criminals can easily obtain guns through illegal transactions. The informal market of gun dealers is dangerously supplying weapons to people who are legally barred from obtaining a gun. Instead of taking away guns from responsible citizens, gun laws should encourage sellers to abide by federal laws. Those that don’t should be shut down so they cannot arm killers.
Second, teach gun safety. It is all too easy to fear things we do not know much about. Communities could combat fear of guns by offering gun safety classes to citizens in order to promote proper self-defense techniques. Gun safety classes have proven successful in reducing gun accidents among hunters and others who use guns recreationally. The same could be true of safety classes for students and citizens.
These reforms could drastically change gun violence in America without limiting the freedom of individuals. It is time the gun debate shifts from unproductive partisanship to attainable solutions for a safer America.
Lauren Moses is sophomore accounting and political science major from Dallas.