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Editorial: Lawmakers must act on gun violence

March 27, 2018

The Parkland Shooting on Feb. 14 sparked national debate around gun violence prevention, with Republicans calling for increases in mental health treatment and Democrats demanding increased background checks and more gun control.

While the debate continues to rage on, and students walk out across the country, nothing has been done on a national level. Over a month after the shooting and Congress has failed to pass a single gun related bill despite constant pressure from their constituents.

Similarly to countless other school shootings, the public outcry has been met with an utter lack of action on the national level.

According to research conducted by the World Bank, the United States accounts for 46 percent of the population in developed countries, but over 80 percent of deaths caused by guns. Additionally, their research found that the gun homicide rate in the US was 25.2 times higher than the other developed countries.

This difference may be partially due to the 1996 spending bill that forbade the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention from “advocat[ing] or promot[ing] gun control.”

“The CDC felt that they were under threat from Congress, that their other funding for other issues would be cut if they continued gun prevention research,” says former CDC researcher, Dr. Jim Gaudino. He adds that this decision trickled down to the states, resulting in a massive lack of gun prevention research.

Dr. Gaudino suggests that gun violence can be treated as a matter of public health.

“Public health is about early prevention, if we can prevent something like heart disease, then we don’t have to deal with the consequences and costs,” he says.

By passing a bill that would reinstate the CDC funding for gun control, Congress would take the first step towards actually taking action and preventing further mass shootings.

[Congress should] increase funding for things such as mental health assistance to attack the roots of the problem.

— Ashok Kaushik

While research on gun violence will prevent shootings in the long-term, laws must be passed now to limit the amount gun deaths currently plaguing the nation. Both sides agree that something needs to be done to help prevent gun violence.

A common proposal from Democrats is to pass so called “common sense” gun laws. These include in depth, required background checks, increasing the minimum age to buy guns, and lowering the capacity of legally acquired magazines.

Recent studies support the proposal to increase background checks.

A study conducted by Kara E. Rudolph on the implementation of the handgun purchaser licensing law in Connecticut found a 40% decrease in firearm homicides.

Additionally, a study done by Daniel Webster on the reduction of a similar law in Missouri found a 25% increase in firearm homicides after the law was repealed.

Given this information, it is clear that Congress must take action to pass a law that requires in depth background checks.

Another aspect of gun violence prevention that many Republicans support is a focus on mental health issues. Many believe this could help tackle the issue.

Junior Ashok Kaushik believes Congress should “increase funding for things such as mental health assistance to attack the roots of the problem.”

While this might help fight the problem, it is not the only solution. An analysis of all 235 mass killings found that only 22% of the shooters could be considered mentally ill.

Many people have their own ideas about what causes the shootings and how we can prevent them.

School Resource Officer Stoffel believes “the most healthy thing a person can have is loving parents, I think that’s the answer to most of society’s problems.”

In the meantime, he thinks increasing the amount of Student Resource Officers in each school could help ensure the safety.

While there is no clear solution to the gun violence that plagues our society, several steps must be taken to begin the process of healing. CDC funding must be increased and bipartisan bills must be passed that include gun control measures from both Republicans and Democrats. If nothing is done, the same cycle of loss of life and inaction will continue.

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