by the Stanford Democrats
“Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote. The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence — they deserve a simple vote.” — Barack Obama
In the United States, there are nearly four gun stores for every grocery store. There are almost as many guns in this country as there are people. More importantly, 1,894,139 years of life are lost to gun violence every single year, while more than 30,000 people are killed and more than 200,000 are injured because of guns each year.
These deaths were not a result of self-defense — they were a result of crime. In the course of a day, a fifteen-year old boy from Prince George’s County, Maryland was robbed and fatally shot after a long day of school. Hours later in Jacksonville, Florida, a woman was shot twice after a fight over a parking spot. Senseless gun violence has become routine. “So it goes,” wrote Kurt Vonnegut over 40 years ago; since, we have become even more desensitized. It is our apathy that must change — it is our silence that is most deafening. (Someone has just been shot by a gun.)
The ease with which citizens can get guns in the United States is alarming, yet preventable. Loopholes allow gun show attendees to bypass any sort of background check to purchase firearms. Extended magazines turn guns into mass murder weapons and assault weapons are sold freely in cities across the nation. From Aurora to Newtown, from Virginia Tech to Columbine, an endless list of shootings has riddled our nation with tragedy. (Someone has just been shot by a gun.) When domestic gun violence kills five times as many Americans a year than hostile fire killed in all of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, finding a solution to gun violence should be more than just a goal — it should be a moral imperative.
The Stanford Democrats, like the President and Congressional Democrats, are not suggesting banning guns. We understand the importance of traditional gun ownership and the Second Amendment. However, we are suggesting reform and regulation. Just four states require registration of firearms. Loopholes hamper the effectiveness of background checks and weaken our nation’s safety. Requiring universal background checks for private gun sales is not just something that earns bipartisan backing — it is something that 92% of Americans and even three quarters of NRA members support. Limiting magazine capacities to prevent seemingly endless shooting sprees is a very reasonable regulation that could save countless lives. (Someone has just been killed by a gun.)
We can and must demand change from our legislators. There is no need to sell armor-piercing bullets in stores across America. There is no need to sell guns that are stronger than most owned by our military in local markets. There is no need to witness yet another mass shooting, to watch caskets bury more lives prematurely lost. There is, however, a need to provide mental health services in our schools, just as there is a need to make our schools safer without placing more guns near our children. There is a need to act.
It is time to engage in a national dialogue on gun control now more than ever. Preventing just one more teenager from being killed after school, preventing just one more Newtown, preventing just one more woman from a fatal bout of road rage — that is something worth fighting for.
Yes, by the time you read this paragraph, yet another innocent person will have been shot by a gun. But, today, we can do something. Today, on the President’s National Day of Action, we can do our part. We can join our voices together to make our message clear and our voices heard. We can mobilize and utilize social media, to inform our friends and neighbors about a much-needed reform and a meaningful mission. We can and we must. It might just let a congresswoman talk to her constituents at the local market without fear. It might just let a family safely go to the movies on a Friday night. It might just let a child have another birthday. It might just save a life. #TheyDeserveAVote.
The Stanford Democrats the largest political group on campus, mobilizing for key campaigns and working for progressive change across the street and across the country.