By Audrey Daniels
WANT Esteemed Contributor
On March 14 2018, tens of thousands of students walked out of their schools at 10 am for 17 minutes. One minute for every life lost in Florida’s Parkland shooting one month prior. The students that were killed in Florida were not the first to die like this. Nearly 130 people have died in school shootings since 2000, but this year students have decided to say “Enough”. The walkout was not only a memorial to those who have been killed, but also a political protest against inadequate gun control and inaction by the government.
Despite these being the first major student protests, the Parkland Florida shooting is not the shooting with the largest number of casualties. The school shooting with most casualties from recent history was at Virginia Tech in 2007, where 33 teachers and students were killed, and 23 were injured. Another recent shooting (2015) with a high death toll was Roseburg Community College, in Oregon, with 10 students killed and 9 injured. In 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary, in Connecticut, 20 children and 6 teachers were killed. So far in 2018, there have been 17 school shootings. The most recent shooting was at Grant Mills High School in Maryland, on March 20th. The shooter was a student, and died after being shot by cops, after he killed two students.
WIth the right to own a gun firmly placed in the constitution, America’s gun control laws are the source of great controversy. Despite this, there are just some facts that can’t be ignored. The US government does not require a permit to purchase a handgun, and only three states require one for the purchase of a rifle or shotgun.
In 2014 31% of households owned a gun.
The US has more guns per population than any other country, with 88 guns per 100 people. The country with the next most guns is Yemen, with 54 guns per 100 people. America has more guns than cars and more gun stores than coffee shops, and there are roughly 31,490 coffee shops in the US.
In the US, over 37,000 people die in road crashes each year. In 2017, there were around 39,000 deaths from guns in 2017. You need to go through a one-year process to get a driver’s license: an extensive test at the DMV to get a permit, 100 hours of driving with an adult before you are eligible for a permit, and waiting periods before you take others in the car with you. Despite that fact that almost 2,000 more people are killed by guns than cars, you do not need a permit to buy a handgun in the US, and a handgun costs around $350, about the same price as a Chromebook. Most people tend to blame assault and automatic weapons for America’s gun problem, but around 65% of guns used in US murders were handguns, although assault weapons kill more people, as they fire rounds faster. While in some states you need a permit to buy a larger gun, you do not need one for a handgun, giving easy access.
In 2018, 39% of Americans were satisfied with gun control laws, 46% wanted stricter laws, and 8% wanted less strict laws. 77% of people surveyed last week said that Congress was to blame for its inaction, while 62% blamed Trump for the Parkland shooting.
So, more than half of America thinks that things will change, as they should. Too many lives have been lost because of the inaction, and that needs to change.
Photo Credit: Simon Hadleigh-Sparks