Reactions to the Parkland School Shooting: Being Right

The tragic school shooting that happened in Parkland, Florida this past week once again raises the endless, contentious debate regarding gun use in our country. Many survivors of the shooting have spoken out about what happened to them in hopes that, this time, the conversation may be different. Change needs to be enacted if we wish to see America once again become the land of freedom, a place of both safety and opportunity. The fact that parents no longer feel safe when they drop their children off at school, not knowing if their building will be the next target of a senseless act of violence, is mind boggling to me. However, does the answer to ending this trend of mass shootings in this country begin by taking away guns?

As most people know, the right to own guns is clearly permitted by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitutions. Americans may indeed bear arms if they deem it necessary. However, our Founding Fathers could not have foreseen the horrific acts of violence and terror that have arisen at the hands of deranged individuals with access to high powered weaponry. Therefore, I believe the more accurate way to change our culture of gun possession in this country is not to infringe upon those who wish to possess lower classes of guns, but instead take away the ability of Americans to buy high powered weapons like AR-15s and other automatic machine guns. I do not believe that there is a sensible argument to prove why someone needs to own an assault rifle to protect themselves in 21st century America.

The statistics on gun ownership in this country are staggering. While Americans only make up about five percent of the world’s population, we own an estimated 35 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns. Some research indicates that number is even higher, reaching 50 percent of civilian-owned guns. Considering this statistic alone, it is no surprise that we are one of the world’s leaders in gun related deaths. Further, it can just as easily be argued that it is easier to buy an AR-15 rifle, the exact weapon used by Nikolas Cruz in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting which killed 17 people, than a beer in this country. You need only to reach your eighteenth birthday in order to buy an assault weapon. Characterizing this weapon as a “hunting rifle” is absolute absurdity.

Based on the current makeup of our

government, Republicans must be on the forefront of this movement. Despite historical reluctance to move on guns, making a strong political statement may actually work in their favor. Gun enthusiasts and NRA members alike still understand that the access to high powered weapons are putting others at risk when these weapons are purchased by people with the intention to kill. Unfortunately, the current background check technologies that exist cannot truly measure the intention of those seeking to purchase a gun. Therefore, the logical step is to begin to restrict access to assault weapons and those rifles commonly used in mass shootings. Even from a conservative perspective, this must be the change.

For this to happen, lawmakers must re-evaluate their own sense of reluctance that molds their opinions on gun related issues. Many Republicans have remained complacent regarding the gun debate, citing that if people want access to guns, they will find a way to get them, regardless of their intentions. However, if our government does not attempt to change anything, we will remain stuck in this constant cycle of insanity, waiting for the next notification on our phones telling us of shots fired at a school, church or shopping mall. Stuck in a cycle just hoping the next strike doesn’t happen somewhere we know, or take someone we love. Our GOP leadership needs to act, lead and end the cycle of violence. 

Contact Paul Smyth at [email protected].