It is an extremely controversial issue – some people want to place restrictions on the sale and use guns in an attempt to prevent mass shootings, while others argue that guns are a right of the American people that should not be violated.
In the wake of the recent Texas church massacre, the United States came together to mourn.
However, many people seem to question why tragedies like mass shootings seem to be occurring more frequently.
Why must we go through pain and suffering at the hands of a person with a gun? Why must we face the consequences of one person making poor choices? What is being done, and what more can be done, to address the situation?
One of the most debatable amendments is the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment was drafted in 1789, when George Washington was president. Partially based on the English Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment holds that the right to self-defense is a natural right, and that owning guns is a duty of the people to defend themselves.
From the time the Second Amendment was drafted until now, gun technology has shot up. According to the NRA Museum, gun technology in 1789 was limited to little more than the double-shot gun. In 2017, gun technology has progressed dramatically – semi- and fully automatic guns can kill more people and animals in a shorter amount of time, compared to the rustic double-shot gun.
Which leads to the question politicians seem to struggle to answer: If a technology increases drastically, should laws (or even rights) regarding that technology change to meet a new status quo?
The Second Amendment states, "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
The first portion of the amendment states that a militia should be "well regulated."
The last portion says the right to own guns "shall not be infringed."
So both pro-gun control and anti-gun control supporters can make arguments based purely off of what is written in the Constitution.
The same cannot be said in terms of ethical appeals.
Dozens of mass shootings have happened on American soil.
On Nov. 5, gunman Devin Patrick Kelley entered a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. He shot and killed 26 people and injured 20 others.
On Oct. 1, Stephen Paddock opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and injuring around 500 others.
On June 12, 2016, Omar Saddiqui Mateen opened fire in a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 people and injuring 50 others.
On Sept. 14, 2012, Adam Lanza opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Conn., killing 20 6- and 7-year-olds and six adults.
In a recent blog post on Alabama Living, Meredith Cummings, who lost her grandfather in the Las Vegas massacre said, "If a school full of dead children in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting five years ago didn’t change our country, I’m not sure what will."
The fight against gun control should not be based purely on "rights" or what was written in the Constitution some 228 years ago. Empathy for those who have been affected by gun violence should have a major impact on how to regulate firearms throughout this country.
Empathy bridges people together to support a cause. Empathy shows that you are willing to view something through someone else’s perspective. Empathy is crucial in developing and maintaining relationships with one another.
Gregory Korte wrote an article in USA Today demonstrating how easy it is to legally attain a gun in the United States. It is legal for a U.S. citizen of age to obtain any semiautomatic weapon created before 1986. Someone who wants to buy an AR-15, which is capable of firing 45 to 60 rounds in a minute, can have their desires met. In addition, it is possible for a gun owner to obtain bump stocks, which lets a semiautomatic firearm copy fully automatic weapon fire.
This bump stock kit is what officials say Stephen Paddock used when he opened fire in a crowd of 22,000 people.
After the Orlando shooting, Congress failed to ban the sale of guns to people on terror watch lists. Many conservative and partisan lawmakers voted against extended background checks on gun owners and banning the sale of guns to people on terror watch lists.
After the Las Vegas shooting, it seemed that bipartisan lawmakers were open to passing a bill banning bump stocks. However, one month after the shooting, bump stocks are still legal.
Sensible regulations on guns – increased background checks, banning the sale of firearm to people on terror watch lists, and banning bump stocks – would not affect responsible and reasonable gun owners.
People who own guns for the sole purpose of hunting or for sport do not need a gun capable of having automatic-like properties. As Stephen Colbert puts it, "[bump stocks are] great for hunting – if you’ve got seven seconds to kill every animal in the forest."
Even people who own guns for protection should not be adversely affected by sensible gun control laws. The chances of needing a gun to fire 100 times in seven seconds for protection are virtually zero.
Tackling the issue of gun control will not come easily. After a mass shooting, many political figures say it isn’t the "time or place" to talk about gun violence or gun control.
But if right after a mass shooting isn’t the time to talk about gun control, when is?
Taking immediate, yet practical, action to address the issue of guns and their capabilities would make passing any sort of regulation easier in Congress. In addition, lawmakers and constituents must be willing to cross the aisle and listen to arguments made by opposing ideas.
We must be willing to compromise. No hot-button issue will have a solution that is black or white. Liberals and conservatives must be willing to come together to bring about change for the greater good.
The people of America have the power to bring about change. Not only should we be willing to compromise with each other, we should also have our voices heard.
Writing to your local congressman or senator with a personal story or your own thoughts is useful in addressing issues from a civilian’s point of view. We can influence the political process. We can make change for our country.
United States citizens pride ourselves on being humanitarian, yet we still struggle to come up with a solution addressing gun control that would appeal to voters on both sides of the political spectrum. Despite facing massacres, we fail to address and tackle the issue of how to treat and regulate guns.
The legitimacy of what it would feel like to lose a loved one should not be questioned. We are all human. We all have our right to live. If that right to live must restrict the right to own guns, shouldn’t the value of human lives come first?
Should we choose to place regulations on guns for the greater good? The answer may seem obvious, but we will undoubtedly face challenges down the road when creating and reforming gun control laws.
Elise Yu is a sophomore at Williamsville East High School.