Gun control reform necessary for public safety

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By Jackson Booth, Contributor

In hindsight of the horrific events that transpired in Aurora, Colo. and other acts of gun violence, there should be greater federal restriction on the types of firearms citizens are allowed to purchase.
The alleged gunman   killed 12 people and injured nearly 70 others.
“Police found him in full riot gear and carrying three weapons, including an AR-15 assault rifle, which can hold upwards of 100 rounds, a Remington 12-gauge shot gun and a .40 Glock handgun. A fourth handgun was found in the vehicle,” according to ABC News.
As the second amendment clearly states, Americans have the right to bear arms, there is no doubt about that. However, with the recent acts of firearm terrorism, it seems that government officials have continuously protected the right to own firearms, leaving the well-being of all other members of society behind. This is why it is crucial that the ban of semi-automatic weapons, like the AK-47 used in the Aurora shooting, be reinstated and federal regulations should be updated to monitor the amount of weapons individuals own.
President Obama made similar comments in a recent press conference after the Aurora shooting.
 “AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals. They belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities,” Obama said.
President Obama later went on to say that gun control should not be an uncomfortable discussion but a general belief in decency.
“The majority of gun owners would agree that we should do everything possible to prevent criminals and fugitives from purchasing weapons; that we should check someone’s criminal record before they can check out a gun seller; that a mentally unbalanced individual should not be able to get his hands on a gun so easily. These steps shouldn’t be controversial. They should be common sense,” Obama said.
The majority of Americans support this idea. Fifty-four percent of Americans believe there should be stricter gun laws, while at the same time 78 percent of Americans oppose a federal ban on guns, according to the Opinion Research Corporation.
Several cities and federal districts, like Chicago and the District of Columbia, have attempted to tackle gun violence by banning handguns.
This caused uproar among many pro-gun advocates, which led to a Supreme Court case, McDonald v. Chicago. The Supreme Court struck down the measures and ruled that the right to keep and bear arms under the second amendment applies to all states under the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment.
Now, the important question to ask is what type of gun control law should be created and enforced?
First and foremost, guns including rifles, pistols, revolvers and other similar non-semi-automatic weapons that are used for protection and recreational use are perfectly acceptable.
Semi-automatic weapons, grenades and other harmful explosives, however, should be  outlawed. It is also important that individuals with mental disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. should not be allowed to purchase weapons.
In the United Kingdom for instance, there is strict control on all firearms. Citizens of the U.K. can purchase a gun as long as they pass a background check to prove their mental stability, take a training course, file for a license and renew the license every five years. There are also limits on the number of weapons and ammunition an individual may purchase and own. The government of the U.K. makes it as complex as possible in hopes to deter citizens from purchasing firearms.
The U.K. also has a “gun amnesty” program in which people with illegal firearms may go to a designated site to drop off their guns with no questions asked.
While the gun laws in the U.K. are some of the toughest in the world, not all of the elements should be applied to U.S. law. The U.S. should, however, take similar actions.
One of the aspects of the U.K. law that should be implemented in the U.S. is the restriction on the amount of weapons and ammunition citizens can own.
Federal regulators should require business owners to track the number of weapons and ammunition purchases into a universal computer database (that all weapon dispensaries have access to) so government officials can track unusual purchasing activity.
If there was a universal computer network database that could track the purchase of weaponry of individuals, there might  have been a chance that the Aurora shooter would not have been able to purchase the amount of weapons that he did.
More than 30 homemade grenades, 10 gallons of gasoline, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and trip wires or trigger mechanisms have been secured from the apartment of the individual responsible for the Aurora shooting, according to the Huffington Post. The fact that he purchased that many explosives and owned numerous firearms, including semi-automatics, should have raised a red flag at the weaponry dispensary where he purchased these products.
While there should be federal legislation to combat gun violence, the issue is deeper than public policy; it represents a great need for a cultural change.
One of the greatest causes of gun violence is the way in which our society has accepted the normalcy of violent behavior. As a nation, we have created a culture that advocates the right to own and use weaponry almost religiously. Whether through violent video games, movies or even music, consumers are bombarded with gun violence.
By the time the average child is 18 years old, he has seen 200,000 acts of violence and 16,000 murders on television shows and in movies, according to Media Education Foundation (MEF). MEF also estimates that 89 percent of best-selling video games contain violent content.
Along with those statistics, it is important to know that 66 percent of all U.S. homicides were firearm related, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census.
Another contributing factor to gun violence is that organizations, such as the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation, spend millions of dollars lobbying congress to push their agenda. It seems there is no price too high to protect gun rights.
Cultural change on gun violence is something that starts at the grassroots level. It begins with local communities raising awareness on the issue of our society’s acceptance of violence in the media, and the need to change that.     
Until that happens, one of the best ways that the government can begin to address the issue of gun violence is to institute responsible gun control laws, laws that respect the second amendment but also recognize that along with the right to bear arms, the government has the responsibility to protect its citizens from senseless acts of gun violence.

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