I remember the first time my dad was robbed. I was 8 years old. My dad was bringing food for dinner and, as he entered our home, two individuals forced their way in. There was a fight. My brother and I ran to hide under the bed. We heard a loud bang. Then, a tumultuous moment came with my mom screaming for help and numerous voices of people coming into the house. Once everything settled, my brother and I came from our bedroom. I remember seeing the stain and traces of red fluid on the floor of our living room. I thought it was ketchup and wondered why my dad would use ketchup for our dinner. Later, I would learn it was blood, my dad’s blood.
Since that time, my dad was robbed numerous times. In 2002, he was almost beaten to death during a robbery attempt. He would die a month later as the result of the injuries inflicted during that last incident. As a result, I learned at an early age that guns can be dangerous, and I also learned that guns can be used for protection. I can understand why guns are so popular. The New York Times reports that there are more than 300 million guns in the U.S. —about one for every citizen. The Pew Research Center has also found that three in 10 American adults currently own a gun, and among those who don’t own a gun, about half say they could see themselves owning one in the future.
I am one of those who could see owning a gun in the future as protection is my biggest concern. This is consistent with most people, as 67% of current gun owners state protection as their major reason. Other reasons include hunting, sport shooting, gun collection, and job requirement.
However, we cannot deny the statistics on gun murders with 45,222 people dying from gun-related injuries in 2020. A research from the New York Times reveals 3.4 gun murders per 100,000 people in the U.S. That may seem a small number but that’s five times higher than Canada and 30 times worse than Australia. Conventional wisdom would support the general notion that the more guns there are, the more gun deaths there will be. However, focusing on “gun control” has been counterproductive. First, the Second Amendment protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Second, many gun advocates argue guns can be used to stop violence. Third, the powerful gun lobby within our polarized political system exerts an enormous influence in shaping gun regulation.
As a result, we need to focus on gun safety. Early this month, a New Mexico state senator introduced a gun safety training bill after a cinematographer was accidentally shot during a movie rehearsal. Gun safety is especially important as 32 states allow people to carry their guns without undergoing any live-fire training. Nevertheless, gun safety must begin with the gun manufacturers. The development of smart guns should be promoted and eventually enforced by lawmakers. Smart guns allow only the rightful owners to operate the guns based on fingerprint technology. While smart guns are in development, all gun owners should be required by law to keep their guns in a locked container. Failure to do so may result in the gun owner being held accountable for the unauthorized use of the weapon.
Likewise, common sense shows no need for assault weapons to be made available for civilian use. Thus, a ban on assault weapons, including semiautomatic weapons and weapons with high-capacity magazines, should be instituted at the federal level. Finally, federal law requires background checks in all gun purchases. However, sale from private individuals and online retailers are excluded from this requirement. Universal background checks would require all firearms transactions to be recorded and go through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Basically, that represents a background check in all gun sales at any point of sale. By doing so, any existing loopholes can be closed preventing ineligible people to own guns. The Pew Research Center found the vast majority of Americans support comprehensive background checks and more importantly, a study published by the Journal of General Internal Medicine found states requiring universal background checks had homicide rates 15 percent lower than states without such laws.
There is no doubt that making America safer is not an easy task. Still, I do believe most Americans will agree we should all carry this task in our hearts. Let’s take some action and express our need for gun safety and training, banning all assault weapons, holding gun owners accountable, promoting smart guns and implementing universal background checks to our congressmen.