Opinion: The United States needs stricter gun control laws

The mass shooting earlier this month in Raleigh, North Carolina was just one of 562 mass shootings in 2022, according to the Gun Violence Archive


Nikki Sisson

Family members of Susan Kanantz left items and messages as part of a makeshift memorial after she was killed in a mass shooting in Raleigh, North Carolina last month.

Nikki Sisson, Marketing Director

On October 13, Susan Karnatz sat at the kitchen table, talking with her family. They planned on going to a new restaurant for dinner before Karnatz put her hair up, tied her shoes, and headed out for her run – just like any other day. However, today, she wouldn’t come home.

Karnatz, my aunt, was killed in the Raleigh mass shooting 5.9 miles into her 7 mile run along with 4 other people, a dog, and 2 others who were shot and injured. The 15 year old shooter had a handgun, a shotgun, a knife, and a backpack full of ammo. 

I always knew that there was a problem with gun violence in the United States and have always held the belief that stricter gun control laws would help the issue. However, after witnessing the effects of gun violence firsthand, I feel much stronger about the issue now.

Under the second amendment, citizens of the United States have a right to bear arms, but even now that is slightly limited. You must meet a certain age, mental capacity, and other standards to purchase a firearm. These precautions were put in place by the Gun Control Act of 1968. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (1993) mandates background checks or a waiting period of 5 days before a licensed merchant can sell a handgun to an unlicensed individual.

Although these precautions were put in place, and definitely do help, it isn’t enough. This doesnt stop guns from getting in the hands of irresponsible parents who don’t properly store them from kids. This doesn’t stop guns from being illegally bought and given to those who shouldn’t own them. At this point, there is no way to completely put an end to all of this, but by passing more restrictions and laws, mass shooting numbers could start to decrease.

More gun control laws have been attempted to be put in place since then, but have failed to pass through the legislation process. In District of Columbia vs Heller (2008), the Supreme Court ruled (5-4) that handguns should not be banned from civilian use and purchase under the second amendment. In more recent years, gun control laws considering banning automatic weapons and more background checks have been considered, but never passed.

This doesn’t make sense. How can the government see the problem and know what to do to help fix it, yet not be able to. How come everyone can’t see that 20 year olds shouldn’t have any need for automatic weapons? Or that more intense background checks could help decrease the risk of guns being put in the wrong hands? People shouldn’t even use the second amendment to argue against gun control, because no one is trying to take away all guns. This is about giving the people their second amendment right safely, with the least amount of risk.

With the total number of reported mass shootings increasing every year from 2014-2021 (2014 total: 273; 2021 total: 691) it is clear that something needs to be done. Now I know that adding more rules won’t solve every problem, but it can certainly help decrease the chances of these events occurring. Earlier in 2022, Joe Biden passed a bipartisan gun safety law, adding to the preexisting law prohibiting those with a history of domestic abuse able to own firearms, expanding background checks on those ages 18-21, and allowing states to pass “red flag laws” where people can protection courts to take away firearms from those deemed a threat to themselves or others.

Many pro-gun rights politiions have commented on how this goes against the second ammendment, and resstrcits peoples’ freedoms. However, this bill does not take away the ability for responsible citizens to purchase and own guns. This only stops guns from getting in the wrong hands. If someone is complaining about this law stopping them from getting a gun, they should never have had one in the first place.

I don’t want my aunt to just be another statistic representing the ignorance of America. We need to constantly address this issue and do more about it. I’m tired of people making a deal about each shooting for a week and then forgetting about it and moving on. Mass shootings and gun violence aren’t so easy to move on from when it’s your loved one who didn’t come home from school, the store, an event, or even a run on a familiar trail. So many people have been affected by gun violence in America, and the numbers seem to keep going up. It’s time to put an end to this pattern.