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My Perspective on America’s Gun Crisis

Colleen Schlieman | Editor

I did not grow up shooting guns, but I did grow up respecting them. My father was in the Navy and had to learn to respect weapons. He taught me the same thing, I was not exposed to weapons, but I knew they were dangerous. I grew up in a post-Columbine era of America, where Sandy Hook was something that parents kept on their minds. Lockdown and school shooter drills were something that I was more than familiar with. Getting onto the rifle team in my sophomore year of high school gave me a different perspective on a weapon I was unfamiliar with. 

I learned a lot just by attending a few of their open practices. To even qualify for these, we had to go through mental health evaluations done by the school. Once going to their practices, I could not bring the .22 rifle to the line onto the mat. I was only allowed to touch the weapon once a presiding member of the team was beside me, watching me. Flags were kept in the barrel until the coach told us that we were allowed to remove them. If people were down range, meaning the range was “cold”, no one was allowed to touch any of the guns. If the range was “hot” you were allowed to touch the guns, but no one was allowed to walk down the range. 

I spent three years on the rifle team and I learned not just about the sport, but how guns can be a positive for some people. I have never hunted in my life. I learned many perspectives from these people. They grew up differently than me and hunting was part of their family traditions.  

This posed a dichotomy for me. I appreciated guns, the sport of rifles, and what they had done for others, but I also thought that guns were harmful and that there should be stricter regulations on them. 

Every Town Research has provided statistics exploring how states with more relaxed gun laws have a higher rate of gun deaths and mass shootings. In States where elected officials pass more gun laws and tighten the restrictions on who can get guns, there are fewer gun deaths and mass shootings. 

Every Town Research also reports that the state of Arkansas has the most gun deaths per 100,000 residents in the state. They also have the weakest gun restrictions. Frankly, I do not even find this to be a coincidence. To purchase a gun in Arkansas you do not need a background check to purchase a handgun. You also do not need a concealed carry permit to conceal a firearm in public. There are also no laws like an extreme risk law or child access prevention law.  Compare this to California; they have all of these laws, and more to restrict who can purchase a gun and how it can be stored. California also has the least amount of mass shootings and gun deaths per 100,000 people. 

Stricter regulations on guns have been tried before. In 1994, Bill Clinton signed in the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that expired in 2004. ABC News reports that the bill banned specific firearms and certain features of guns. It also prohibited the making, transference, and possession of a semiautomatic assault weapon. 

The real question is, did this ban even work? In 2004, The National Institute of Justice, which is a part of the Department of Justice, found that in the six cities they studied gun crimes with automatic weapons dropped 17%. 

Gun restrictions are hard, and I cannot fix the broken system that we currently have in America. I am also at a crossroads here, I can appreciate the 2nd Amendment and what it does for this country, but I am also appalled and saddened by how many people die in gun-related deaths every year. I think the United States government should be ashamed of itself. They have the tools to put laws in place to make guns even just a little harder to buy. I think the government at least make it a law to require a background check whenever a gun is being sold. I think there needs to be at least some change so that the gun death rate in this country can be lowered. It is horrendous and saddening now. 

Photo by Katie  Godowski, from Pexels


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