The Prism: Every Side of the Story

OP-Ed: New Zealand Government Response Versus the United States

The United States faces a major issue with gun control, or the lack thereof. This issue has not gone away, mainly because of the lobbying of politicians.The National Rifle Association “and its affiliates spent a record $54m to secure Republican control of the White House and Congress, including at least $30.3m to help elect Donald Trump” (The Guardian).

The United States has had multiple issues with guns in the past and despite this, guns continue to get into the hands of the wrong people. These incidents include many school shootings, including the December 2012 tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. On that day, 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, then walked into the elementary school “wearing combat gear and armed with semi automatic pistols and a semiautomatic rifle killed 26 people — 20 of them children — in an attack in an elementary school in central Connecticut” (New York Times). He then killed himself. Another school shooting that happened more recently was the Parkland school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which resulted in the death of 17 people. The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, had been previously expelled from the school and had been said to be mentally disturbed by his fellow students. The Parkland shooting left a major outcry in the world among the children and adults of this nation. The March For Our Lives movement was a gathering in Washington, D.C, as well as other states across the nation. It was “used to fight for comprehensive gun safety legislation at the local, state, and federal level.” Many celebrities gathered together to donate money for the fight against gun violence, some of which include Gabrielle Union, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Ellen Degeneres, George and Amal Clooney, Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, and many others. Even Gucci donated to the cause.

Although there has been a push for better gun control, only baby steps have been made. Since the Sandy Hook school shooting, “there have been at least 239 school shootings nationwide… 438 people were shot, 138 of whom were killed” (New York Times). The children of this nation don’t feel safe, and as the future leaders of the nation, they will represent gun control in government in coming years. Will we have to wait for someone of the younger generation to become a leader in the government in order to see a change regarding gun control? Although school shootings are a major aspect of the need for gun control, they are not the only massacres. In the Las Vegas shooting which occurred on October 1, 2017, the shooter, Stephen Paddock, obtained the weapons legally and had “no real criminal history and no known affiliations with terror groups,” (The Washington Post). All the background checks came up clean, and despite this he killed many people and ruined the lives of many others.

         The list of shootings that America has gone through continues on and on, but after New Zealand faced the shootings last month at two Christchurch mosques, killing 50 people, the government swiftly instituted a new gun control bill. After one shooting, New Zealand’s  government has taken action.The shootings at the two mosques are said to have been a hate crime because “authorities found an 87-page manifesto filled with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim ideas” (CNN) .The shooter was identified as 28-year-old Australian citizen Brenton Harrison Tarrant, who live-streamed the shooting on Facebook for the world to see. The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern vowed that “every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack last Friday” would be banned, and they were.

      Despite America’s numerous deaths from gun violence, the need for better gun control in the nation is still pressing. I am in no way suggesting that the use of guns should be completely banned; what I would like to see, instead, are some specific reforms dedicated to the safety of children and schools. The right to bear arms is stated in the Constitution and as long as that stands, the banning of guns seems highly unlikely. We, as a nation, need to do more to ensure the safety of the people who reside within it.

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