Darcy Keenan, columnist
There is no one definition of a mass shooting that is accepted by all Americans, however, according to CNN, the one most widely accepted states that mass shooting is an event in where four or more people, not including the perpetrator, are shot and killed. It is almost identical to the FBI’s official definition of mass murder.
According to an article published by the Guardian in June of 2016, every six days there are five mass shootings. That means, on average in the United States of America, there are only sixty days a year that do not include mass shootings. Furthermore, CNN has stated that America holds five percent of the world’s population, but is responsible for thirty one percent of the world’s mass shootings.
These numbers are scary. Is there anything we can do, as college students, as citizens of this country, to reduce the numbers?
Currently, America’s federal gun control laws are fairly lenient. Most of the federal laws regarding guns pertain more to the seller than the buyer or owner of the gun. However, in 1990 the Gun-Free School Zones act was passed, which prohibits unauthorized personnel from carrying guns in school zones. In 1993 the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was passing which requires background checks and a five day waiting period for most firearm purchases. There exceptions, though, one of which is when firearms are bought from private sellers, including those at gun shows.
Laws and regulations vary from state to state. In Ohio the additional laws include the prohibition of sawed off shotguns because that allows for easy concealment while still inflicting maximum damage, as well as “zip guns,” which refer to homemade guns, and silencers, unless you are licensed to have one. Despite these added on regulations, Ohio does not require background checks or a waiting period.
Anti-gun groups and individuals say that in countries with strict/intense laws and regulations when it comes to guns have significantly less shootings than we have in the USA. Statistics that back up this claim are plentiful: in the United Kingdom semi-automatic guns were banned after a mass school shooting in 1996, since then, there has been only one mass shooting. Australia also hasn’t had a mass shooting since 1996, Australian gun regulations are strict. To own a firearm, one must have no only a license but a valid reason to need one. Valid reasons can include professional hunting and employment as a security or prison guard. Japan has the closest thing to zero tolerance of guns of any country in the world, their last mass shooting was in 1982.
Jaclyn Schildkraut (State University of New York) and H. Jaymi Elsass (Texas State University) worked together to collect and analyze data regarding mass shootings in eleven countries, including ours, from 2000 to 2014. In that time span, America had 133 mass shootings, the next highest country was Germany. With six.
Germany has fairly strict gun laws. If under the age of 25 the person purchasing a firearm needs to undergo a psychological evaluation, firearms that use more than 7.5 Joules of energy to fire require licenses, as do their attachments, and you cannot have firearms with blades in public spaces. It is also illegal to use a magazine that can hold over ten rounds of ammunition. This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to German gun regulations.
There is a clear correlation between stricter gun laws and a lack of mass shootings. But there is also another side to this argument: While gun control may limit mass shootings, it does not reduce the number of mass murders or even homicide by gun.
In Germany, though there have only been six incidents that match the definition of a mass shooting from 2000 to 2014, there have been eleven reported terrorist attacks, resulting in eighteen deaths. And, according to the Gatestone Institute, there was a rise this past June in knife related attacks and deaths. The United Kingdom also saw a rise of knife related attacks and deaths in April of this year.
Regardless of what your stance is on gun control, it is clear that strict gun regulation cuts down on the amount of mass shootings. That being said, gun control seems to be the only way to reduce the violent shootings that plague our country. Regardless of your political beliefs, I encourage all of you to take this into consideration and think about this: Is your right to own a gun worth the shooting and murder of innocent civilians?