This is America

Are Stricter Gun Laws Necessary?


Erin Green, Newspaper Editor-in-Chief

I grew up in an age where seeing a mass shooting on the news is a commonality.

When I learn of one, I don’t feel shocked. At the most I stop and think to myself, “Another one already?”, say a quick prayer for all those who lost someone, and move on with my day. People don’t like to admit it, but it’s easier that way. If we dwell on it for too long, we might start to feel guilty for just sitting here complacently instead of actually doing something. 

Adults always make comments about teenagers’ overuse of technology and how so many of today’s problems could be solved by simply powering off an iPhone. They believe depression, bullying, and lack of social skills can all be cured by the press of a button. When it comes to mass shootings, however, they have no solution to offer. According to many, it’s just a part of life and there’s nothing we can really do about it. But I believe there is. I don’t think completely abolishing the Second Amendment is productive, but I feel it’s important to make the process of buying a gun much more difficult than it is currently. 

According to the BBC News article “How Japan has almost eradicated gun crime”, only six gun deaths occurred in Japan in 2014. To an American, a number so low sounds absurd considering in the exact same year, the United States had 33,599. So, how do they do it? Well, they’ve ensured their process of purchasing a gun is lengthy, challenging, and intense. Handguns are completely banned, but if anyone wants to buy a shotgun or air rifle, he or she is required to take an all-day course, pass a written exam, and complete a shooting range test with a score of at least 95%. Additionally, a series of mental health and drug tests are mandatory along with a criminal background check. They also search for any links or affiliations with extremist groups. One’s relatives and even work colleagues are contacted before a gun can be purchased. The number of gun shops is also limited, with no more than three being allowed in each of their 47 prefectures.

In the United States, policies are a lot less restrictive. According to the Council On Foreign Relations article “U.S. Gun Policy: Global Comparisons”, for the most part anyone at least 18 years old can buy a gun as long as he or she has not been dishonorably discharged from the military, proven to be mentally unstable, or convicted of a crime. The U.S. is leading the world’s most developed nations in homicide-by-firearm rates. After comparing these statistics to Japan’s, it’s apparent that these numbers can drastically dwindle if stricter regulations are put in place. 

Many gun advocates argue that there’s no use in changing current laws because places like Chicago have rigid regulations yet high gun crime rates. Although a 16-hour training course and background check is required in Chicago, there is no mental test to determine if one is stable enough to have a firearm in their possession. Many of these mass shooters have no previous offenses, so a clean criminal record is hardly enough to prove someone’s innocence. Additionally, if a Chicago resident didn’t want to take the training course, all they would have to do is travel a few hours away from home to purchase a gun with ease. Creating stricter laws for an entire country–like Japan has–will make it exponentially harder to buy a firearm illegally. 

It’s clear that too many senseless acts of violence are taking place in the United States right now. This is not a problem that will just go away. It is not something we should ignore, and it is definitely not something we should accept. People are dying, and every single person is at risk. The time for change is now. Americans are united by freedom, but this will not be the land of the free until tens of thousands of people aren’t at risk of getting murdered after walking out of their front door.



To see how students and teachers feel about this topic, check out my other story:


Photo by Ayanna Alexander