By Divya Mahajan '24
Source for photo above: dreamstime
Throughout the past few decades, gun control has been a very controversial topic. Despite the fact that guns can be used for leisure, such as hunting, they have also proven to be very dangerous.
Over the years, there have been many instances where guns have fallen into the wrong hands and cost many innocent lives. The question we should be all asking ourselves is: should there be additional restrictions on firearms?
Given that guns can be a catalyst for violence and evil, society should have stronger laws governing firearms.
The number of shootings that have occurred in the U.S by teenagers is tremendous.
I believe the age to own a gun should be 25 years or older because at this point, the individual will have a more complete understanding of the risks of gun use. Moreover, 18-year-olds are prone to being more temperamental, which makes it a tougher case as to why they are allowed to carry guns. Why does someone need a gun any younger than 25? It is very important that we ensure people who own firearms are developed mentally and emotionally as these are about gun ownership.
How and Why School Shootings Happen
In May 2018, a school shooting occurred in Santa Fe, Texas, where a 17-year-old killed 8 students and 2 teachers.
More recently, on October 25, 2022, in St. Louis, Missouri, “A 19-year-old gunman killed two people and wounded several others at his former high school and left a note saying his struggles led to "the perfect storm for a mass shooter," St. Louis police said.
My mind is blown when I hear horrific things like this. Imagine being that teacher who tried saving her students from a school shooter, and then the shooter took a girl just before her sweet 16. I can't imagine how her parents must feel, that they just lost their 16-year-old daughter because of a school shooting, at a place she goes every day to gain education. One should be able to feel safe and secure when going to school. Children shouldn't have the fear of getting shot anywhere, especially in their own school. School is supposed to be a safe environment for kids and teens. Parents shouldn't be afraid to let their kids go to school either. It is disgusting that this worry is almost normalized here in America.
When reading about these examples, a question that paces through my head is, how is someone younger than 18-years-old able to kill their classmates and teachers?
Now to answer the first part of the question, how do school shootings happen?
According to the Journal of Urban Health, study found that at least one loaded, unlocked firearm is stored in homes where about 4.6 million children reside.
These improperly kept firearms have contributed to school shootings, suicides, and deaths of family members including infants or toddlers. Parents or other family members may also be the cause of how some shootings actually happen. They may be the reason why teenagers get ahold of guns. By keeping your gun extremely safe and locked up or even not owning one, can save a lot of lives.
It's one thing to get a hold of a gun, but now the question is WHY teenagers do it?
What goes through these teenagers' minds when it comes to shooting people? Do they enjoy it? Is it personal from childhood trauma? Are they triggered by their families or classmates? Mass school shootings are a mental illness caused by gun violence. Psychiatric diagnoses can help predict gun crimes and shootings that represent the deranged acts of people suffering from mentally illness.
Shootings may also frequently reflect larger cultural stereotypes and anxieties about matters such as race or ethnicity, along with social class or politics. Ultimately, the teenagers that are shooting people suffer from mental illness and lack the right social interactions that they need.
Age of Gun Ownership
The minimum age for possession of guns in the United States is 18 years old. Is that the problem? I think the age at which one is able to purchase a gun is too young. I feel as though, at 18 one is still a kid, and has not developed the sense of maturity that should be a necessity to own a firearm. Adults this young do not have much responsibility. Eighteen-year-olds don't think as carefully as they should, especially when it comes to guns. They don’t think about how their actions could affect others around them.
At the end of the day, firearms are legal in American because of the second amendment. Many Americans believe they should have the right to own weapons in order to protect themselves and their families. Those who are in favor of gun ownership, see ownership as a matter of security. They would prefer to possess weapons as it enables them to deter and prevent crime while also promoting a sense of security. Moreover, many gun control supporters believe that loose gun laws are the root of gun violence in the United States. Although there are many arguments as to why individuals should have the right to own guns, there should still be strict laws around weapons that can cause mass amounts of harm in the wrong hands.
Ultimately, I believe that America needs to enact stricter gun laws in order to make the country a safer place.