In the wake of the deaths of 17 children and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, Parkland, it is yet again an unfortunately appropriate time to reignite the discussion regarding guns and their place in modern society.

The events that occurred on Valentine’s day at the Florida high school can be singularly blamed on the actions of Nikolas Cruz (19), who consciously chose to purchase a rifle and make the journey to his school in order to murder his classmates. However, his ability to access and purchase the variety of guns in his possession is ultimately the reason this massacre occurred; to purchase a rifle in the state of Florida, no special permits are required, you must simply be 18 years of age and agree to a basic background check.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, as of February 19th there had been 7302 firearm related incidents this year, 34 of those classified as ‘Mass Shootings’. Since the traumatic events at Parkland, a further 2 deaths and 20 injuries have occurred due to gun violence, and so, with these statistics in mind, it would be pure ignorance to state that the US does not have a gun problem. It does, and still members of congress take money from the NRA whilst voting against gun law reform. Marco Rubio accepted $9900 in 2015 and has said of Parkland that “It’s…unfair to argue that the reason why people are suffering today is because there’s some great law out there that if we had just passed it, it wouldn’t have happened. It’s not accurate.”

Every Town Research, an organisation set up after the Sandy Hook shooting of 2012, records 290 school shootings since 2013. This figure encapsulates all incidents involving the firing of a gun on school grounds, meaning this includes suicides and accidental firings. These ‘unintentional’ incidents must be considered alongside more serious ones, as the act of bringing a gun into a learning environment puts children at risk, it really is that simple. A gun always poses a risk to those around it.

To put the gun culture of America into perspective, there have been five mass shootings in the last 40 years in the UK, of which, only one was a school shooting. The Dunblane massacre killed 17 and injured 15 and acted as a catalyst for a second series of amendments to UK gun law, effectively banning handguns altogether. Since these new firearms acts there has been one shooting: Cumbria, where a licenced gun holder killed 12. In the year 2014/15 there were 7866 firearm offences in the UK, involving 19 fatalities. In the same period in the US there were 51,863 incidents, leading to 12,556 deaths. To consider this alongside population size, this means that 0.47% of deaths in the US in 2014 were gun related, a massive 157% higher than in the UK.

In comparison, there were more mass shootings in America in January this year alone than in the UK’s entire recorded history. If this isn’t proof that gun control laws work, then what is?

Lauren Kirton

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