Preventing Gun Violence: What Can Be Done?

Sondra Owings-Priest, Student Reporter

Almost 4 months into 2023, this year has been filled with tragedy and sorrow. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 146 mass shootings in America, 2 of which we classified as school shootings. Experts even expect the statistics for 2023 to be quite similar to 2022 and 2021 despite the recent gun reform.

Mass shootings should not be an American way of life and unfortunately, that is what is being normalized. Many citizens are wondering what can they do to change this from happening. The answer is simple, preventing gun violence will lead to a decrease in mass shootings. This is how citizens can contribute, by advocating for common sense gun laws.

The main difference between America and other countries, when it comes to gun violence, is the easy access U.S. citizens have to guns in the first place. Background checks need to be required on all gun sales and all states should enforce Extreme Risk Laws.

Background checks as of now, are only required if sold by a licensed gun dealer; therefore, people can get away with purchasing a gun with no questions asked by an unlicensed gun dealer that sells guns online or at gun shows. To close this loophole, background checks need to be required on all gun sales not just sales from licensed gun dealers. Only 20 states out of 50 have background checks and/or permits enforced for all gun sales. Those 20 states have 10% lower homicide rates compared to the 30 states that don’t enforce background checks.

Extreme Risk Laws allow loved ones or law enforcement to petition a judge to temporarily remove a person’s access to guns when there is evidence that they pose a serious risk. This can de-escalate a situation before anyone can get seriously hurt. Only 19 states out of 50 have these laws and are the same states that have background checks required. These states are on track to what needs to be enforced in every state to prevent gun violence. In the 10 years that Indiana enforced these laws, it saw a 7.5% reduction in its firearm suicide rates.

There are often controversial opinions that these laws conflict with the U.S. Constitution, but because the judge only temporarily removes the person’s access there is actually no conflict at all. Many instances have “red flags” or signs that a person poses a threat to themselves or others so these laws can make a big difference between life and death and protect public safety.

Many people believe that they can’t change the world for the better but they can. Everyone has a voice and no one is ever alone. Every person can vote for common sense gun laws and politicians that will vote for common sense gun laws. Additionally, if one can’t advocate for themselves then advocate for them and use your voice. If there is no change, then more tragedies will happen and go unnoticed. How many more will we let happen?