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The Issue of Gun Violence Prevention by Congress

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The epidemic of gun violence has undoubtedly become one of the most heated and controversial debates in the United States for the past decades. Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Las Vegas Strip, and the recent one that had the public shaking, Stoneman Douglass Highschool Shooting, are all the names that have imprinted itself with a sense of utmost terror in our people’s mind. Research carried out by the CDC (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) showed that the number of firearm deaths in the United States has been increasing steadily from 2000 to 2015, with the number of deaths in 2015 reported to be 36, 252. There are people blaming it on the social injustice and lack of awareness of mental health. However, whilst all the social issues that are currently surfacing in the United States can be found in every other country in the world, the factor that has made gun homicide an increasing danger for our society is how easily accessible firearms are. According to Northeastern and Havard universities, there are approximately 265 million privately owned guns in the United States. Even though there has been increasing support for a stricter background check, and many marches demanded a safer society for the public, especially students, most current effort Congress paid on gun control till now has been stalled. Nonetheless, it’s now more than ever that we need the help of law in order to fix this issue.

Gun control has been a persistent problem in Congress. After the current effort, Fix NICS Act that helped somewhat strengthen background check by getting more record reported from government agencies, Democrats said it’s just the first step, and they’re striving for better gun control. Following the school shooting in Florida, Congress successfully passed the STOP School Violence Act which received bipartisan support. The bill helped tightening the security at schools but failed to touch on the subject of gun control. A Republican in Florida also suggested raising the minimum age to purchase a gun from 18 to 21. The bill was backed up by our president, but met with opposition from the NRA (The National Rifle Association, ) saying that the act would deprive the people under 21 of the right to self-protection. Bills on gun control presented by Congress have been facing obstacles, if not from the NRA, then from the difficulty of reaching an agreement from both chambers. The NRA remains a powerful lobby and has been constantly objecting to bills on gun control being proposed, trying to focus on the United States mental healthcare system instead. Most of the bills presented either have been shut down or have gone nowhere in the Senate, mainly because of the high number of votes it requires to pass a legislation. Thus, Congress has done little to none to address the problem that won’t wait for them to stop increasing in its significance.

Many argue with the well-known saying “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. ” However, guns allow people to inflict damage in a short amount of time, from a far distance, and guns have a destructive power that most other weapons like knife can’t compare to. I believe it’s crucial to pay more attention to gun control, to be specific, a stricter background check. The loophole in the background checking process has made it available for many mass shooters to legally purchase guns, for example, Nikolas Cruz from the Florida shooting. It’s stated that “under the last outcome, a firearms transfer may be “delayed” for up to three business days while NICS examiners attempt to ascertain whether the person is prohibited. At the end of the three-day period, an FFL may proceed with the transfer at his discretion if he has not heard from the FBI about the matter. The FBI, meanwhile, will continue to work the NICS adjudication for up to 90 days”. The retrieval process won’t be carried out until background check has been completed, yet, it takes a person less than an hour to use the gun they just obtained to attempt suicide or mass shooting. Moreover, whilst the federal law required everyone purchasing firearm from a licensed dealer to go through a criminal background check, it’s not the same case for unlicensed dealer. People can easily acquire gun from unlicensed dealers, on the internet for example, without undergoing through the background check. “Surveys of people incarcerated for crimes involving handguns show that more than three-quarters obtained their firearms from a person not required to conduct a background check under federal law — whether with an acquaintance or “street” source”.

One suggestion I have, besides trying to improve the whole background checking system in general, is to make it harder for high – risk people to acquire a gun by bringing about an universal law requires either all buyers to have a permit in order to buy gun, or all unlicensed dealers to conduct background check on their buyers. There are only 18 states in America currently require background check for all gun purchasing, but so far, datas show that the method has been effective. It’s reported that 393 sales from unlicensed dealer in Colorado was upheld after HB 1229 – a law requires background check from unlicensed dealer – was enacted for two years. Also, “a 2014 study in the Journal of Urban Health found that Missouri’s 2007 repeal of its permit-to-purchase handgun law was associated with a 25% increase in firearms homicide rates”. A similar suggestion about background check named after the two congressmen, Manchin – Toomey proposal, was put forward not long ago but unfortunately, met unfavourable vote in Congress. However, right now when the debate over gun control is still heated, it’s crucial to try pushing for the law again and hope that it’d be taken into consideration by Congress this time.

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