What began as ordinary days for the people of Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, quickly turned deadly after two mass shootings broke out two weeks ago. Occuring only 13 hours apart from each other, the shooters responsible for Dayton and El Paso left 31 people dead and 53 more injured.
This is not an isolated incident. According to an online Aug. 5 CBS News article, the headline reveals the impact of such violence: “There have been more mass shootings than days this year.”
Despite the 255 mass shooting events, our government currently lacks political pressure to alter our gun laws.
The urgency of this situation is enough to deem mass shootings an epidemic, but what is more alarming is Congress’ inability to address such a crisis.
Instead of simply utilizing social media to speak out against mass shootings, politicians should discuss the necessary changes that must be made not only to accommodate the problem but to also prevent future mass shootings. For example, California can start reforming their laws by requiring a license for ongoing firearm ownership in order to better regulate the guns owned in California.
Some of these changes should include addressing the loophole in state laws that allow people to obtain guns easily in other states if their residential state have stricter gun control. Politicians should set a national federal rule regarding gun control so that the method and system of obtaining guns are consistent throughout the country, diminishing the inadequacy in state laws.
Rather than banning guns and violating every American’s Second Amendment right, a more effective form of gun control could be to simply tighten the restrictions of buying a gun. Whether that means conducting more thorough background checks or increasing the minimum age, it is important that our government becomes more aware of who is able to purchase guns and why.
Our government should increase the minimum age to purchase firearms to 25 years old. Though anyone who turns 18 is legally an adult in the United States, the brain continues to develop until the age of 25, according to an article by the University of Rochester Medical Center.
The article states, “Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part,” while “Teens process information with the amygdala… the emotional part.”
Both the shooters responsible for the recent attacks in El Paso and Dayton were under the age of 25. Connor Stephen Betts, who was responsible for the Dayton attack, was 24 years old, while the El Paso shooter, Patrick Crusius, was only 21 years old.
The issue partly lies within denying the direct cause of mass shootings, which include lax requirements for purchasing assault rifles.
While the American citizen’s right to own a gun is listed under the Second Amendment, an assault rifle is an automatic weapon that was originally designed for infantry use in wars, and is not an appropriate form of self defense that ordinary citizens should have access to.
Many U.S. states allow individuals as young as 18 years old to purchase firearms, even before they are legally allowed to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages. The requirements that must be met before acquiring guns are rather lenient for something as dangerous and potentially life threatening as a weapon.
In some states such as Delaware, Florida and Colorado, obtaining a gun is easier than buying a car or renting an apartment, and a license, registration or permit are not required during purchases.
Helen Ubinas, a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, took only seven minutes to buy an AR-15, the same semiautomatic rifle Stephen Paddock used to kill 58 people in the deadliest mass shooting in American history. When purchasing something as deadly as an AR-15, it should take more than seven minutes to conduct a proper background check to ensure that the weapons end up in the hands of those willing to use it responsibly, and should take at least three days to a week to thoroughly complete.
By delaying the time it takes to acquire a gun, it may possibly diminish any sort of impulsive urges and rash actions, and gives time for a possible shooter to think things through before they are able to go on a spontaneous shooting spree.
Gun reforms also generally lack support from Republicans, primarily due to the financial support that they receive from the National Rifle Association [NRA]. According to CNN, 684 Republicans accepted contributions from the NRA, compared to only 24 Democrats who received financial support from the organization.
With the NRA exerting such influence and power over Republicans, both parties face a series of difficulties when coming to a compromise on gun control, despite dealing with a non-partisan issue.
Another contribution to the lack of gun reform lies in government officials citing irrelevant factors that are meant to explain the prevalence of mass shootings.
“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society,” said President Donald Trump on Aug. 5, in response to the Texas and Ohio attacks . “This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace.”
According to a research by Patrick Markey, a psychology professor at Villanova University, men who commit severe acts of violence actually played less violent video games compared to the average male. Only 20% of males were interested in violent video games, compared to 70% of the general population.
In spite of the numerous studies that show little correlation between video games and violence, politicians continue to turn to this baseless statement to argue the causes of the recent massacres.
Along with video games, mental illnesses were also blamed for mass shootings.
“Mental illness and hate pull the trigger, not the gun,” Trump said at a public address on Aug. 5.
By attributing minor factors such as video games to explain the occurrence of mass shootings, politicians spin the conversation away from the real problem of the lack of gun reform in the political agenda.
With tragedies such as the Dayton and El Paso shootings reminding the government of the issues with gun control, times must begin to change without the body counts rising.