This archived article was written by: Rodrigo A. Leon
When things go wrong, we work to fix them. One way or another, we at least try. The Umpqua Community College shooting shocked the nation, yet this is almost routine. The United States has had 15-mass shootings since Barack Obama took office, according to Time magazine. Countless lives lost, and what have we done, nothing. Every time this happens we cry, we talk about change and we are shocked. Many Americans have lost hope of change. Many Americans lost their lives for nothing. Many Americans look for a solution that has not worked.
In the U.S. we have the privilege to experience this as a tragedy so we brush it aside as an instance. Ask people from other countries, many will say that gun ownership is ridiculous. I grew up in Peru during a rough time; I heard of shootings every day, had friends look down the barrel of a gun and my generation was the lucky ones. My parents lived in a time where shootings were commonplace, almost one a week. That started to change when the government got out of corruption and straightened out gun laws. That led to a rapid decrease in gun violence. It isn’t just one place, though.
The United Kingdom has almost one fortieth of the amount of gun deaths per 100,000 people in 2013. The difference isn’t culture, it is gun control laws. Australia has more lenient gun control laws than the UK, but more stringent than U.S. and they are still at one twelfth of gun deaths per 100,000 people. There is a clear pattern here. We are the only nation in the world to relax gun laws after a massacre. When 13 people were killed in New Zealand, laws tightened. When 16 were killed in Germany, gun laws tightened, and when 35 were killed in Australia, most guns were banned.
Most of these countries haven’t banned guns entirely, but banned high powered rifles, semi-automatics and other more dangerous firearms. Small firearms or hunting guns are allowed in most of these places. The real question is why do you need an AK-47, a weapon capable of killing hundreds in a matter of minutes? No one is hunting so many deer.
Realistically, there are other factors to gun violence, but undeniably the greatest predictor of gun violence is access. The answer isn’t pretty and we hate to hear it, but what is harder losing your guns or losing your friends or family to gun violence?
You have to ask yourself, can you look at Maria Alcaraz, sister of Lucero Alcaraz, in the eye and tell her even though gun control could help prevent the kind of violence that took her sister’s life would you still advocate for your guns? Could you look in the eyes of a mother who lost her son and tell her her son died in vain?
We are hesitant to give up our guns because at the end of the day, these people are just numbers on a statistic sheet. Let someone who has firsthand seen the damages of gun violence tell you that their lives are more important than your gun. At the end of the day they are people with dreams, hopes, friends and family.