Column: What we can do to stop the increase of mass shootings in the US

Our government should work to prevent the increasing shootings

This is the second time I am addressing a shooting this semester. It is President Barack Obama’s 15th time addressing the nation regarding a mass shooting since he was sworn in as president. This is our 45 school shooting this year and our 142nd since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. So far this year, our nation has experienced 294 mass shootings, in which four or more people are killed or injured by gunfire, in the span of just 274 days.

Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, has now just become a statistic in the countless shootings the U.S. has dealt with in the past few years. The shooter opened fire on Thursday, Oct. 1, killing nine students and teachers and injuring another seven. The victims were ages 18 to 67. The shooting was primarily confined to one room at the college, Snyder Hall. Almost all of the occupants were either killed or injured. The shooter was equipped with body armor, five handguns, a semi-automatic rifle and numerous magazines of ammunition, [according to the New York Times(http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/04/us/confusion-horror-and-heroism-in-oregon-shooting.html?_r=0). When police arrived at the crime scene, they exchanged fire with the shooter momentarily before injuring him. However, he died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds not long after.

The amount of gun-related deaths and mass shootings we have in this country is simply astounding, and I have to say that I am simply fed up with the lack of attention the government devotes to this issue. While finding resources for this column, I had to be very specific in what words I put into Google to make sure I found information about the most recent Oregon school shooting. It is outrageous that there are so many school shootings in our country that we have to be so particular in how we search for a specific one.

In his address after the shooting, Obama challenged the media to compare the number of terrorism-related deaths to the number of gun-related deaths. The Washington Post’s results showed that the number deaths related to terrorism in the U.S. from 1970 to 2014 totaled around 3,521. The number of deaths due to gun violence in the U.S. just this year has been 8,512. That’s well over double the amount of deaths in one year compared to terrorism deaths.

As Obama pointed out: “We spend over a trillion dollars, and pass countless laws, and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so. And yet, we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths.”

The time has come where stricter gun laws are no longer an option; they’re a necessity. We need measures such as background checks and bans on assault and semi-automatic weapons at the very least. The results show that these measures work. There have been fewer gun-related incidents in states with stricter gun control laws. Furthermore, the American public supports many gun policy proposals. According to the Washington Post, 85 percent of citizens support background checks for private gun sales, and nearly 60 percent support a ban on semi-automatic and assault-style weapons.

In August of last year, Oregon passed legislation requiring universal background checks for all gun transfers, which should have helped in preventing potentially dangerous people from obtaining guns. However, according to The Trace, the Sheriff of Douglas County, where Umpqua Community College is located, may not have enacted this measure because he didn’t think that it would protect anyone. Furthermore, the college campus allows guns, though it prohibits them from college buildings and sporting venues. Nevertheless, tighter regulations on gun laws could have helped prevented this situation from happening in the first place. Our government needs to reevaluate how far our Second Amendment rights extend. Is our right to bear arms more important than the safety of our citizens?

Once again, another mass shooting has rocked our nation. According to BBC News, the death toll of gun-related deaths between 1968 and 2011 is 1.4 million. The American death toll of every conflict from the Revolutionary War to Iraq is 1.2 million. We need this issue to stop spiraling out of control by enforcing tighter gun control laws and taking government action. As Obama pointed out: “This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America.” It’s time to make a different choice.

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