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  • Writer's pictureCarter Cote

This is Why We Need Background Checks

Updated: Jul 25, 2019

There were 23 recorded school shootings in 2018, the highest ever recorded according to BBC News. Despite the staggering amount of times that we hear about this type of tragedy, we have yet to make any changes regarding the regulation of the access to firearms. This needs to end.

Two were killed and four were wounded in a shooting at UNC Charlotte yesterday afternoon.

I am writing this post days after the shooting at the University of North Carolina, one of 15 school shootings to already occur in 2019... I am also writing this out of frustration for the lack of change to firearm accessibility, stressing the need for implementation of stricter restrictions on the attainability of guns. I did extensive research from various reputable news sources in order to find statistics and to research a practical solution that the United States could follow in order to address the rampant gun violence in this country.

What's the Problem?

It is far too easy for an individual to purchase a gun and the measures in place to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands are extremely inadequate. Guns are sold at hundreds of different stores, including major corporations like Walmart. Now, there is a form that some states require you to fill out to check for history of mental illness, but the majority of states actually don’t even require it. As for background checks, only six states require a background check, and conducting one can be done in minutes. According to CNN Money, denials from background checks are rare, occurring less than 1% of the time.

Grabow, Chip, and Lisa Rose. CNN.

Providing crucial context in signifying the seriousness of this issue, as you can observe from the chart, 288 school shootings have occured in the United States since 2009 according to CNN. Look at how many occur in other countries

Addressing any Opposition

Opposition Claim: Under protection of Second Amendment rights, gun control laws would infringe upon the individual right to bear arms.

Gun control laws would only limit, rather than prohibit the attainability of a gun - As such, any prohibitions on the possession of a firearm wouldn’t conflict with the Second Amendment.

Opposition Claim: These restrictions would be inconvenient for existing, responsible gun owners as they would essentially restart the process of filing for legal possession of a gun

We cannot make exceptions of the law. Everytime we go to the airport, we are checked by the TSA every single time even though we may have been identified as responsible citizens. The TSA does not make exceptions for the sake of preventing acts of terror, and their methods have proven to be successful. In the case of firearms, increasing the security of attaining a gun ensures the safety of citizens, as it guarantees that the individual in possession is a law-abiding citizen.

Opposition Claim: There are already existing background checks and measures taken to prevent guns being placed in the wrong hands.

These background checks are only applicable in certain states, like California or New York. In most states you can walk in and buy a gun without a license, without a background check, nor restrictions on assault weapons.

Possible Solutions

I tried to research measures that other countries have taken to address gun violence, and how they've found success in preventing mass shootings. Here's a summary of my research.

Australian Model (The Independent) - a massive buyback program, costing hundreds of millions of dollars offset by a one-time tax increase, but cut gun-death totals in half.

Nordic Model (The Independent) - Sociologists who have studied the Nordic model observed that there is peaceful social cohesion between citizens and the government, as the Nordic government goes to great lengths to build trust in local communities.

Japanese Model (BBC News) - Citizens must attend an all-day class, pass a written test, and attain a 95% accuracy during a shooting-range test. Then they have to pass a mental-health evaluation at a hospital, as well as a background check, in which the government digs into any criminal records or ties and interviews friends and family members. Finally, they can buy only shotguns and air rifles — no handguns — and must retake the class and the initial exam every three years.

Out of the three models that I have researched, I believe that Japan's restrictions and requirements for gun attainability are the most viable solutions to begin addressing the senseless gun violence in America. Because of Japan’s strict laws, Japan seldom has mass shootings, with no more than 10 shooting deaths a year. The practicality of it is that implementing the Japanese Model would introduce tighter regulations to keep guns confined only to those fit to use them. All of the measures required would sufficiently provide concrete evidence for the mental state of the person looking to own a gun. Rather than signing a form, a physical evaluation would be far more effective in ensuring the user does not pose a threat to the community. Banning handguns as well as semiautomatic weapons would have a significant impact. As we can see from the chart, most gun-related deaths are from the use of a handgun or a semi automatic. By banning these weapons, we can significantly lower the amount of deaths caused by guns, simply by not allowing this type of gun.

Why the US Should Take Note of Japan's Gun Restrictions

The Japanese Model would also mean to continuously monitor the gun user’s activity. By doing so, the federal government can ensure that the individual in question remains qualified to continue to possess the firearm, in which their eligibility could change based on their mental health. This would ensure that guns will not fall into the hands of the wrong people. In order to raise awareness for my potential solution, I inscribed a letter to Congresswoman Katie Hill to propose the implementation of the Japanese Model.

I believe that the US implementing the Japanese Model for gun restrictions can provide a starting point for addressing the senseless gun violence that continues to increase every year in the United States. Gun violence is truly the issue of our generation, and despite how complex of an issue it is to solve, making changes to the attainability of firearms is an important first step towards seeing change. And see change we must.

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