Charlotte Draper | US Politics | Wednesday 3 August 2016 | GMT 16:00 | firstname.lastname@example.org
The recent mass shooting inside Pulse – a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida – has been described as ‘the worst shooting in modern US history’. In one single attack, Omar Mateen managed to kill 49 people and wound 53 others. The worldwide heartbreak that followed the attack left many people, including myself, posing the question: how many more armed attacks will occur before America finally says enough is enough?
Whilst many US citizens protest that the eradication of guns in America is unfair to those who use them responsibly, the gun laws presently held in the US are simply too lenient to ensure the prevention of further acts of terrorism. In a recent questioning session at a Town Hall meeting in Indiana, President Barack Obama stated that because any attempt to refine or amend gun laws to improve safety would be seen as “a notion to take folks’ guns away”, neither he nor any member of the US government could analyse or implement methods of gun misuse prevention.
Obama revealed that the US government could put citizens who are known to “have been on ISIL websites” on the no-fly list, but could not stop them from buying guns because of the National Rifle Association. To me, that is ridiculous. Obama is essentially saying here that because Americans are so afraid of losing their right to own a gun, the government can’t even attempt to find ways of protecting its people from terrorism. The fact that an individual known to the FBI as a possible “ISIL sympathiser” can’t get onto a flight out of fear of terrorism, but can purchase as many guns and ammunition as he or she wishes is scarily hypocritical. Besides, is the need for innocent Americans to hold a gun so important that it outweighs the need for anti-terrorist measures?
Another big hole with present American gun regulations is the fault in the background check system. There appears to be a ‘loophole’ in the rules. A lot of states require background checks in order for people to retain permits or licenses (which is great), but if a person becomes unsuitable in the period between gaining a license and purchasing a firearm, because no further checks are made they are still free to do so. And even worse, some states don’t perform any checks at all! How are American citizens supposed to feel safe in a state where criminals are free to walk around armed because nobody checked their records? I have only as of recent questioned my belief that all guns should be removed, but discovering this led me to believe that perhaps getting rid of guns altogether is the safest bet.
A few weeks ago, I watched a video in which a woman explained that having previously been raped during college, she now feels that having a firearm is the only way of ensuring herself and her two small children remain protected. When put into perspective like this, I can sympathise with the woman’s wish to carry a weapon. However, I also worry it could be dangerous to use a firearm without sufficient training. If the woman in question was to use a firearm to protect herself and her children, without previous experience of using a firearm, it is possible that she could cause accidental harm to herself or her children. Furthermore, having a weapon also poses the threat of the attacker getting hold of said weapon and using it against the owner, so the only way I could justify American citizens owning and carrying firearms is if they were trained properly – which is unfortunately not a requirement upon purchase of a firearm in the US.
From watching a fair share of US citizens express genuine fear at the prospect of taking guns away, it seems that perhaps it’s too idealistic to believe that banning guns altogether is the best option. Maybe America would be better off continuing to let citizens use firearms for self defense purposes. But one thing is for sure, there is no way that present laws can remain unchanged, or the US would be leaving its people ideally vulnerable to any possible attacker. America needs to protect its people by being more open minded when it comes to gun law reforms – one bullet is one bullet too many in the wrong hands.