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Last updateWed, 05 Dec 2018 1pm

Politics

Parkland Shooting Survivors Call for Gun Control: “Never Again”

Parkland Shooting Never Again 1Surviving students from the Majority Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School sparked the “Never Again MSD” movement after the mass school shooting in Parkland, FL, on Feb. 14.

The convicted shooter, Nikolas Cruz, opened fire in the high school using an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

Cruz is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder after killing 14 students and 3 staff members, and leaving multiple others injured in the shooting.

“The surviving high school students from [MSD High School] have successfully started a political movement on gun control that we haven’t seen in over 25 years,” said Joseph Patten, Ph.D., an associate professor of political science.

“The kids are battling against the National Rifle Association, which is one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in the country,” Patten said.

 “They’re attempting to have legislation enacted that closes the gun show loophole, bans military-style weapons, [like the one used in the Parkland shooting], and raises the age for purchasing some weapons,” he explained

“They are planning a major demonstration for gun control in Washington D.C. on Saturday, March 24, and many Monmouth students are planning on participating in the demonstration,” Patten said.

Additionally, the University has released a statement on Monday, Feb. 28 to assure prospective students who have applied for admission that their participation in the protest in the capital would not affect their admission decisions.

Parkland Shooting Never Again 2“Freedom of speech is fundamental to our democracy. Monmouth University wholly supports active citizenship and will not penalize applicants for their participation in a peaceful protest,” the University writes on its twitter account.

After the massacre in Parkland, FL, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the United States Department of Justice to ban bump-stocks, in an attempt to limit the options of making a semi-automatic rifle fully automatic.

However, Cruz did not use a bumpstock in the Parkland shooting.

The United States is one of the only country that grants a constitutional right to bear arms.

Additionally, when compared to nine other leading countries, it is the only one that does not require safe storage of firearms, preliminary safety training, documented reason for purchase, registration, and, in some cases, a license. 

Currently, there are over 300,000,000 firearms in the United States—an average of nearly one firearm per person.

Difficulty arises when considering the regulation of the use and sale of firearms, because the Second Amendment grants a constitution right to bear arms.

Moreover, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has argued that to ban any firearm is unconstitutional and would only penalize lawful gun-owners and licensed hunters.      

“Hunting is a huge thing in Pennsylvania [for example], and there are people that do it responsibly,” said Stephen Chapman, Ph.D., an assistant professor of political science.

However, he explains, hunting is a different issue from using an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon.

Additionally, according to the Pew Research Center, a non-partisan American think tank based in Washington, D.C., research has shown that people buying guns for hunting has gone down and people that are buying semi-automatic guns for self-defense are increasing.

“I look at it from the statistical point,” Chapman said, “and this is a good example of why we have to look at other factors.”

 Chapman explained that, compared to other countries, factors such as violent video games, violent movies, and mental health issues are as present as they are in the United States.

However, the highest rates of shootings occur in the United States.

The United States has the highest number of shootings than any other country, even after adjusting for population size.

According to research published by Politifact, from 2000-2014, the United States has had 133 mass shootings—and has consistently increased since.

“When we realize what the factor that is different is, it goes back to the amount of guns available and the ease of acquiring a gun,” Chapman added.

“I don’t think you can convince me otherwise that there is a greater causal effect of any other variable other than the amount of guns we have in America,” he said.

Brandon Ellis, a junior political science student, said that issues relating to gun violence are a problem in the United States and “it needs to change.”

“When looking at other nations like Australia, where gun laws were significantly stricter following a mass shooting, we see that a mass shooting has not occurred there [in Australia] since,” Ellis said.

We should follow other nations like Australia in fixing the issue in America,” he suggested.

 In the Australian Crime Statistics’ latest report that included 2013-2014, the firearm use in homicides was 32.

In comparison, according to the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) homicide data table, there were over 8,124 homicides involving firearms in 2014 alone.

When adding both the 2013 and 2014 year, there was a total of 16,578 people killed by firearms

In response to the Port Arthur massacre that killed 35 people, Australia passed the National Firearms Agreement, a firearm control law, in 1996.

This law places a strict control on semi-automatic, and fully automatic weapons. It also established a firearm buyback program which, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, bought over 650,000 firearms back to the Australian government.

Kaitlin Allsopp, a junior political science student said that she is not a proponent for bans on guns.

However, she explained that “proactive gun control legislation is necessary to right the wrongs that occurred, over and over again in just these first few months of the year.”

Allsopp said that initiatives such as increased vetting and raising the minimum age for gun ownership could help. “Underage people could still go to gun ranges under the supervision of an of-age, permitted adult,” she explained.

Additionally, Allsopp said that mental illness should be looked into much more than they currently are, and that the “gun show loophole should be closed.” 

“Gun control in this day of age has become an extremely controversial topic that needs to be addressed,” said Mitchell Garofalo, a sophomore political science student.

“Over the past year, mass shootings have become a buzz topic that ignites firearm legislation and propaganda to remove firearms,” he added. 

Similar to Allsopp, Garofalo said that he does not support an entire gun ban.

“[To ban guns] will not stop individuals from purchasing firearms through illegal matters and only improve the black-market desire for these products,” said Garofalo.

Instead, he said that “legislation should take into consideration how times have changed and create specific laws to ensure that firearms do not enter the wrong hands.”

Security Devices International (SDI), Inc. is a security company that puts effort into designing non-lethal bullets as well as quantifying non-lethal effectiveness and benefits.

For example, instead of using lethal bullets, one could buy rubber bullets, bean bag rounds, or a blunt impact projectile. These bullets are considered non-lethal.

As such, these bullets could be used to disarm, or injure a subject without the consequence of taking a life.

Less lethal weapons like these are used by governments, in instances such as public riots; they are also used by others such as police and corrections officers.

“I am so encouraged that so many young people are speaking up and holding their elected officials accountable for their blatant dependence on the NRA,” said Kenneth Campbell, Ph.D., a professor of history.

“We simply must demand change and bring the gun laws in this country in line with other democratic countries,” Campbell said.

IMAGE TAKEN from Monmouth University

IMAGE TAKEN from CNN

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