Questioning gun ownership in America

Rachel Chou, Opinion's Editor

The debate about gun control is familiar, and has recently been revived when two journalists were shot in Virginia on Aug. 26. Vester L. Flanagan, otherwise known by his onscreen name Bryce Williams, was a former reporter at WDBJ who shot and killed fellow colleagues Alison Parker and Adam Ward. He filmed the shooting, posting the video on his Facebook and Twitter accounts.

“I’ve been a human powder keg for a while … just waiting to go BOOM,” was the message Flanagan sent to ABC News before committing suicide. The gunman claimed to have endured racial discrimination and sexual harassment at work, as described in a 23-page fax he sent to ABC News, in which he also proclaimed his admiration for the shooters at Columbine and Virginia Tech. Two days after the Charleston shooting, he had put down a deposit for a gun.

While the incident brings up conversation about race, the more prominent reaction is pleading for stricter gun laws in America. Guns claim the lives of more than 33,000 people every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2012, there were 31,000 gun deaths, 12,000 of which were homicides. On average, every 16 minutes, someone will die from gun violence. Facing these facts, many argue that the government needs to address gun violence as a public health crisis. Over 283 million guns are estimated to be in civilian possession. I mean, you can buy a gun from Walmart–that is how accessible they are.

Guns shouldn’t be restricted; they should be more heavily regulated. The shootings will not stop, and guns will always be in circulation even if the government shuts them down. This is a problem that stems from the individual level, and needs to be addressed with policies that make gun ownership appear less attractive. There should be more requirements and a more in-depth background check for people who are trying to purchase a gun. Pre-gun-ownership classes, performance tests to test the mental stability of the patron, checkups, inspections, heavy taxes, and gun insurance should be required, enforced, and renewed on a regular annual basis.

The degree to which you care about gun policy doesn’t matter because it affects every taxpayer in America. According to a study from the Urban Institute, gun violence costs the American taxpayer half a billion dollars a year. Many victims of gunshot wounds are uninsured or on public insurance, imposing heavier taxes that we pay out of our pockets. In 2010, hospital costs from firearm assaults were a grand total of $669.2 million. We carry the wounded on our shoulders. We need to take preventative measures to stop dangerous individuals from shooting any more innocent victims.

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