Opinion: Assault rifles should be banned

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Opinion: Assault rifles should be banned

Above is a picture of a gun. WSPN’s Isabel Gitten argues about the importance of gun laws following the tragic Orlando mass shooting. “We need to wake up and realize that stricter gun laws will lead to less gun violence,” Gitten said.

Above is a picture of a gun. WSPN’s Isabel Gitten argues about the importance of gun laws following the tragic Orlando mass shooting. “We need to wake up and realize that stricter gun laws will lead to less gun violence,” Gitten said.

Credit: Flickr user skyandsea876

Above is a picture of a gun. WSPN’s Isabel Gitten argues about the importance of gun laws following the tragic Orlando mass shooting. “We need to wake up and realize that stricter gun laws will lead to less gun violence,” Gitten said.

Credit: Flickr user skyandsea876

Credit: Flickr user skyandsea876

Above is a picture of a gun. WSPN’s Isabel Gitten argues about the importance of gun laws following the tragic Orlando mass shooting. “We need to wake up and realize that stricter gun laws will lead to less gun violence,” Gitten said.

Isabel Gitten

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Turning on my TV early Sunday morning, I instantly see the headline: “50 dead and 53 injured in a mass shooting in Orlando.” Am I surprised? No. I am devastated and angry, but not shocked. The sad truth is that shootings have become too common in the United States. In fact, according to PBS, there have been 372 mass shootings in the US last year alone. There have been hundreds of victims killed, families devastated and friends heartbroken. There have been over 300 communities rattled — and that is not counting the thousands of gun violence cases reported every year. Gun violence has become such a common tragedy in the United States that we now are not surprised to see a mass shooting on TV, and we have been forced to become more alert at shopping malls, stadiums, concerts, workplaces and even schools. Yet we are sleeping through this terrible nightmare of mass shootings.

The cause of this horrible gun violence boils down to gun laws. What many students don’t know is how easy it is for virtually anyone to get a gun. Let me break it down for you: As long as you are over 18, not mentally ill, not a felon and not an illegal immigrant, you can get a firearm. Here in Massachusetts, we are thought to have stricter gun laws, but all this entails is that you must pass a background check and get a state license. There are very few restrictions on what type of weapons one can purchase.

What is most startling is that it is possible to acquire an assault weapon. Honestly, even if you are for the Second Amendment, why would you need a gun that can shoot multiple bullets at a time to defend your family or hunt? You do not use an assault rifle that can spray one hundred rounds per minute to shoot deer or to protect your family if an intruder were to break into your house. What need does a civilian have to own such a high caliber weapon? An assault weapon does not belong in our communities and near our families. The Second Amendment was written in 1776 when there was no such thing as powerful assault weapons that are capable of mass shootings. I believe in the ban of these assault rifles because nobody should be able to walk into a school or a bar or a shopping mall and kill many innocent people with one pull of a trigger.

One of the most common arguments I hear is that it is the person who is doing the killing, not the gun. Yes, a person is the one who ultimately pulls the trigger, but if these people were not able to get access to these powerful weapons, mass shootings wouldn’t happen. It’s that simple: take away the gun, the massacre cannot occur.

You cannot ignore the fact that there is a connection between gun laws and shootings. According to the Wall Street Journal, the United States has had 133 mass shootings between 2000 and 2014 while the United Kingdom only had one. The countries that have stricter gun laws have fewer mass shootings.

Although most of these shootings have occurred many miles away, they affect WHS students. It has forced our school to come up with ALICE (the new protocol that has been designed in case of a active shooter situation). ALICE is the only thing we have to prevent the tragedy that happened at Sandy Hook elementary school from happening in our own community. That is terrifying.

We need to understand the connection between mass shootings and gun laws. If people cannot get access to these assault rifles, they cannot kill. It is that simple. I am worried for our country’s future. I do not want to live in fear. I do not want to turn on the TV to see yet another mass shooting. I do not want to lose any of my friends or loved ones to gun violence. We are a developed country, yet we still have to worry about these things. According to the New York Times, the two guns that Omar Mateen used to commit the biggest mass shooting in American history last Sunday were legally purchased. We need to wake up and realize that stricter gun laws will lead to less gun violence.

As terrorism becomes a bigger issue in our country, we devote agencies and pass laws to try to prevent it. When natural disasters devastate communities, we design ways to keep people protected. When car crashes injure us, we pass laws to enforce seat belts and construct vehicles that are safer. However, when twenty-six elementary school kids are shot one day when they go to school, we stay silent. The Constitution ensures our freedom, but it also needs to protect our safety. It is time that we stand up for our own safety and comfort in our own country.

Opinion articles written by staff members represent their personal views. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent WSPN as a publication.

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