Posted: Thursday, January 3, 2013 3:48:13 AM
The recent tragedy in Newtown has shaken many Americans to the core. It is a truly frightening thing to realize that something so awful could happen in a town so similar to my own, to twenty children whose innocent smiles are so reminiscent of my little brother’s own gap-toothed grin. The shooting at Sand Hook Elementary is a tragedy that demands to be heard. We cannot move on with our lives until a change is sought after regarding gun control. Aurora, Oak Creek, Virginia Tech: how many more shootings must we endure before America wakes up?
The United States Constitution has served our country well over the years, but over the 226 years since its creation, we have had to make changes to fit modern day conditions. After all, the Constitution was written by seventy gentlemen in 1787, a time in which guns could only fire one bullet before they needed reloading, and semi-automatic weapons like that carried by Adam Lanza did not exist.
While America is a national leader in progressive thinking, politicians have made minimal progress regarding gun control laws. As the gun lobby in the US gains power, it seems politicians may not take steps to counter it. However, it is time for Americans to spare ourselves our dignity and look to other countries’ examples.
Australia, along with many Western European countries, have reformed their gun control laws in the last few decades. After a violent massacre in 1996, Australia instituted a new policy on gun registration and ownership. The process can take more than a year to complete background checks and collect information on the mental health of the prospective owner. Australian murders have decreased at a considerable rate since 1996, and there has not been a mass shooting since 1996. Western European countries, too, have experienced a decrease in homicides since their new implementations; total homicides total less than a quarter of the United State’s.
Many citizens consider limiting gun control as a deterrence of freedom. Yet the “freedom” the second amendment guarantees for gun-owners has only locked the rest of the population in a dreadful, imprisoning fear. I cannot attend a high school football game without having my purse searched for a weapon. Two weeks ago a student threatened to bring a gun to school in response to being bullied. Living in a constant state of foreboding suspicion that at any time someone could produce a concealed weapon is by no means what I would call “freedom.”
The heartbreak that America has experienced from the bloodbath in Newtown shows that legislators must take immediate action regarding gun control. Americans must realize that freedom is not defined by the ability to own a gun, but by the guarantee of safety and the ability to pursue a lifetime of happiness- an opportunity the children of Sandy Hook could not live to see fulfilled.