Opinion: America Must Change Gun Laws


Media by Mason Kellerman (he/him)

Although America does have some gun regulations in place, our country needs to update its laws to fit the time we are living in.

When it comes to the right to hold a firearm, there are people for it, there are people against it and there are those who don’t care.

Personally, I think it is hard to form an opinion on such a serious subject when I haven’t been directly impacted. It’s easy to adopt the mindset of “it’s never going to happen to me.” But, members of communities affected by gun violence have probably said the same thing to themselves, only to find that the problem is much more near to heart than they expected.

Whatever your opinions are, the cold hard facts don’t change: 42,539 people have died from gun-related violence in 2021, according to the Gun Violence Archive. And that number keeps going up each year, which is not okay.

I’ve noticed that after each gun-violence related incident that makes the news, especially mass shootings, there is a frenzy of activity to “crack down on” and “strictly regulate” America’s gun laws. But after a few weeks, the same people who felt so strongly about gun laws are on to the next issue.

This needs to change. We can’t just address gun violence when it is convenient, when it makes the news. We have to address gun violence all day, every day, to ensure the safety of the American people. 

One way to do this is to follow the example of other countries. After an April 1996 shooting in Tasmania, Australia radically reformed their gun laws. Their National Firearms Agreement (NFA) banned several types of assault weapons and required a 28-day waiting period, background check and a “justifiable reason” to be present before the sale of a gun.

Since then, Australia has created a country of responsible gun owners. Following the enactment of NFA, total firearm deaths decreased 6 percent each year. 

It is in America’s best interest to conduct more thorough background checks before selling guns, like Australia, including the examination of past criminal history and medical records for any signs of mental illness. In doing so, the number of gun-related murders and suicides would drastically decrease. 

Also, we have to practice what we preach. That starts with advocating for gun safety. Holding mandatory firearm safety classes and keeping guns out of reach of children are important steps forward.

I am not saying people should not own guns. The Second Amendment, or the right to keep and bear arms, is a quintessential American law. But we also need to keep in mind that the Constitution was written in a very different time, for different weapons that were used for different reasons than guns are unfortunately being used for today.