Youth vote will favor officials who push for stronger gun control to make cities, school safer
I am a seventh grade student in Camas. A wave of mass shootings has gripped our nation this year. A grocery store in Buffalo, a Walmart in Chesapeake, an elementary school in Uvalde, a Parade in Highland Park and a bar in Colorado Springs, among others, all turned into killing fields.
Today, 12 children will be found dead with gunshot wounds. 32 will be injured. Kids like me have a higher chance of being killed by guns than dying in a car crash, or succumbing to cancer. What hurts us the most, is that none of this is inevitable. Out of 64 major countries and territories, the U.S. ranks eighth in gun deaths per 100,000 people, while Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands ranked first and third. American guns are also the majority of guns that are used for crimes in Mexico and Central America. The U.S. ranks first in high income countries and for the percentage of childhood deaths that are gun-related. No other countries have a gun violence problem like this that is not cartel or war-related.
One reason we have so many gun deaths is because gun buyers don’t need to get a background check. Background check procedures are harmless to lawful gun owners but can make it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental health conditions from procuring guns that are used in crimes.
One in nine people looking for guns on Armslist.com are not allowed to buy guns, There are already background checks for licensed guns shops but not for online guns or gun shows. This means that 22% of gun buyers didn’t get background checked. According to the New York Times, 77% of mass and school shooters legally obtained their guns, and many bought those guns online or through a gun show, like the shooters at the Columbine Massacre. Our background check systems lack the basic information to screen buyers, even if they are used. The killer at the Buffalo supermarket bought his gun with a background check, even though he had a disqualifying mental health condition. He then used that gun the murder 10 innocent people in a brutal, racist attack.
The vast majority of gun owners are law abiding and responsible, and background check legislation would not infringe on their rights. Only people who fail a background check, because they have a dangerous mental health condition or have been convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors, such as domestic violence and hate crimes.
Unless a gun buyer is not allowed to buy guns, they shouldn’t be affected. The citizens of Washington already have approved this legislation, and polls show the majority of the country does too, so why don’t we bring it to Washington, D.C.
Other common sense gun reforms should be passed as well. Things like limiting the number of guns that can be bought at once, requiring basic training for weapon purchases, requiring safe storage and enforcing reporting procedures for firearm theft or loss. These gun reforms will not impact responsible and lawful gun owners either. They also need to be applied on the state level. But background checks are a simple idea that has already been successfully implemented at every level of government in the U.S. and abroad.
Please, urge our national and state representatives to pass common sense gun reforms to make our cities and schools safe. Let them know: if you don’t save our lives, you won’t get our votes.