Alexandra Warner

On Tuesday, March 23, a shooting occurred at the Thomas Jefferson High School along the 4000 block of Walnut Hill Lane in Northwest Dallas. The shooting took place in the afternoon in the school’s parking lot, where a student was shot in the arm and is currently recovering. An arrest was made later that evening, the alleged suspect is a TJHS student. This event followed one day after a 16-year-old boy was killed and a juvenile girl was wounded in a shooting outside Lamar High School in the Arlington Independent School District. The alleged shooter, a 15-year-old boy, was arrested nearby and is being held on a capital murder charge.  

In light of recent events, it’s only fair to talk about gun control. The main argument for an increase in strict gun control is that limiting access to guns will save lives and reduce crime; opponents insist that it would actually do the opposite by preventing law-abiding citizens from defending themselves against armed criminals. I believe U.S. citizens should have the right to own, carry and use guns, but there should be a more strict level of control when buying guns.

According to Pew Research Center, around 40 percent of U.S. households in 2021 owned at least one gun. A good question to ask is why do Americans feel the need to buy a gun? A Gallup survey conducted in Oct. 2021 found that 88 percent of gun owners were most likely to cite personal safety or protection as the reason for owning a gun.

In an attempted carjacking in the Lovers Lane shopping center on Dec. 30, 2022, LeQuazio Dade approached the victim with his rifle, demanding the wallet and keys. Dade reportedly fired shots, and an armed bystander shot Dade in the leg.

One of the Democrats’ goals is to create stricter gun laws because of the mass shootings across the nation; however, according to the United States Concealed Carry Association, mass shootings account for only .1 percent of firearm homicides. They also believe the U.S. has far more school and mass shootings than other countries especially because of America owning  more guns — which is true, we do own more guns. We also have a bigger population, so the information isn’t exactly accurate. Although you could argue the U.S. is first on guns per capita, while the U.S. population is 4.6 percent of the world total, only 1.43 percent of mass public shooters were on American soil. Attacks are not only less frequent in America than in other countries, they are also much less deadly on average. When looking at other countries like Scotland who haven’t had a shooting in 27 years, the evidence stating that gun control is the reason for a decrease in gun violence is inaccurate because it was already rare in the country to begin with. Lower levels of gun possession also doesn’t necessarily translate into lower levels of violent crime. Gun ownership rates in Switzerland and Austria are significantly higher than in Germany, even though the Swiss and the Austrians have lower murder rates than the Germans. Likewise, Russia has tighter gun-control laws than the U.S. does — yet they have higher homicide rates.

The question is whether more restrictions on ordinary Americans in a nation that already has more guns than people will reduce the number of lives lost. Instead of banning assault rifles, raising the age to buy long guns like semi-automatic rifles to 21 — like seven other states such as Florida and Vermont have done — from the current age of 18 is an idea I could support. This would ensure the right to buy and own a gun while responding to mass shootings driven by young adults and adolescents who have used similar weapons. Even though most mass shooters in recent decades have been over 21-years-old, and the majority of murders have been with handguns not AR-15s, I don’t believe that an 18-year-old should be able to go out and buy an AR because it’s not practical.

One idea that governments could fix are better background checks with a mental health evaluation. The assailants in Buffalo, New York; Uvalde, Texas and Highland Park, Illinois all passed their background checks, so including juvenile records and any mental illnesses evaluations could help prevent mass shootings. Instead of creating a new law, the government should try to enforce the ones already written into the books first.

Ultimately, the issue with guns is the person holding them. If a responsible person owns a gun for protection, hunting or a sport, that’s acceptable. But when put in the hands of a criminal or a person with a mental health disorder (I’m not saying all people with a mental health disorder will commit a crime or are criminals), the laws need to be enforced, and violators need severe and enforced penalties.

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