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Regulating the Second Amendment in an Era of Mass Shootings

By Maria Latimer

The term “school shooting” used to be synonymous with only a few American events: Kent State in 1970, Columbine in 1999,  and Virginia Tech in 2007. The stockpile of statistical data regarding gun violence in America is staggering. While high numbers draw shock and sympathy from readers, it is imperative to see beyond the numbers. With that being said, on average, ninety-six Americans are killed with guns daily. That’s ninety-six lives, cut short bullet by a bullet. Even with numerous killings, many are investigated but deemed inconclusive when it comes to determining a definitive motive.

The most recent statistics on mass shootings in the United States are even more devastating. Sadly, this year, there were an astounding 289 mass shootings that had already taken place by October 17th, 2018 according to the non-partisan Gun Violence Archive.

Boundless categories further complicate data and analytics as there are many categorical approaches to compiling data. Categories include, and are not limited to domestic shootings, school shootings, mass shootings, suicide shootings, gun homicides, youth gun violence, and guns used in domestic violence incidents. Furthermore, data analytics on race, sex, socioeconomic status, and geographical data are also incorporated into these numbers to fully understand the scope of the crisis our country is facing, and how diversified gun violence is. The nation’s two main crime tracking databases are the U.S. Department of Justices’ Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). While society, scholars, and researchers all struggle to find reason in such humanly devastating acts of violence, one thing is for certain, the numbers continue to increase. The foundation of our confidence in public safety, peace of mind, the protection of our children in schools, family, and friends going about daily activities, continues to be shaken.

Police response measures have been ramped up in recent decades. With schools, corporations, and the like regularly practicing active shooter drills. However, as seen in the Florida Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, perpetrators are using this to their advantage. The shooter at Stoneman Douglas High School pulled the fire alarm so as to draw students out of their classrooms, creating confusion, panic, and a riff in the procedures administrators had put their trust in to protect their students. Education efforts can continue to be expanded, with safety procedures being revised, and instead of implementing general active shooter drills, tailor them individually to the specific building, environment, and population that requires the protection. Crime prevention through environmental design has been implemented as one tactic to secure homes, offices, businesses, with positive results in many criminology studies.

Gun laws are sporadically implemented, with each state having differing statutes and regulations. Furthermore, bump stocks, and advanced weapons technology has increased the deadliness of guns with little to no attention from legislatures on how to regulate this ever-growing issue on a national scale.

However, since the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, zealous advocacy from survivors, parents, and citizens who have had enough, has encouraged lawmakers to take a different approach to respond to the deadly shooting. For example, The Fix NICS Act is a bill aimed at revamping the background check procedures for individuals seeking to purchase a firearm. Assault weapons, in general, are a subject of great debate, and both the House and Senate are pushing for a ban on assault weapons altogether, with an indication of possible support from President Trump, as well as twenty-seven senators. Age laws, as well as stricter legislation on straw purchases are also categories that with enough reform, could greatly shape our nation’s path to refining gun laws and creating a safer society.

In this era of mass shootings, the Second Amendment to the Constitution has garnered great attention. As a quick refresher, the Second Amendment states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Language use and interpretation of the prefatory and operative clauses is constantly up for debate, however, that debate isn’t leading our society any closer to solving this crisis. What needs to be considered, to please and satisfy that majority—, a practice we hold sacred as a democratic nation—, is to consider is what restrictions may constrain the Second Amendment restrictions. A combination of cultural change, legal modifications, increased education, and implementing technological advancements, would lead our nation down a safer path, with the goal of eradicating gun deaths in the United States altogether.

As a whole, our nation has a long way to go to eradicate the unnecessary and completely preventative instance of gun deaths in American society. By analyzing and critiquing the current legislature, proposed bills, and current security practices within the overlapping fields of national security, criminology, law, and politics, a solution can, and must, be reached.


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