As most are already aware, the summer of 2019 was one marked by mass shootings and horrific stories of the harrowing moments after an individual opened fire in a WalMart, at a garlic festival or in a municipal building. Communities all across the nation have been left shattered by the sudden loss of their members, and families are grieving for their mothers and sons, their daughters, their fathers. The number of gun-related deaths are on the rise, having gone up 32% between 2014 and 2017, yet the general public remains unaware of fatalities beyond those caused by mass shootings. Although most gun-related news coverage is dedicated to reporting large-scale killings, suicides and homicides together comprise the vast majority of shootings per year in the United States.
This violence is an epidemic, but the crying out of those affected has yet to be definitively answered. Many are saying that it’s too polarizing, too difficult and too divisive for members of the public to suggest action or share an opinion. Every government official from the local level to the Oval Office has proposed a solution, but no two plans are quite the same. Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, is in favor of passing a so-called “red flag law,” which would allow family members or police officers to obtain judicial permission for high risk individuals to be barred from purchasing firearms. It is her expressed intention to “recognize the rights guaranteed to us by the 2nd Amendment AND work to prevent gun violence.”
This kind of law has become increasingly popular in the wake of this summer’s mass shootings, and President Trump, too, has indicated that he might support such legislation if it were to pass through the houses of Congress. However, support for the gun lobby among GOP members makes passage unlikely on both the state and federal level, especially in Michigan, where both state houses are currently controlled by a Republican majority.
Civilians also differ wildly in their diagnoses of the issue at hand, as well as possible solutions. Some believe that the “fake news media” is conflating the issue, while others insist that the government should buy back all semi-automatic weapons. Most U.S. citizens, studies find, fall somewhere in between. While 88% of Republican participants and 90% of those who identify as Democrats agree that the mentally ill should, generally, be prevented from owning guns, only 38% percent of Republicans favor banning assault-style weapons, as opposed to 66% of Democrats.
Regardless of their place on the political spectrum, preventing further gun violence in the United States is a top priority for legislators, political organizers and ordinary citizens alike. Though Americans vary in their experiences and views, most are willing to recognize that the present way of life and the promise of personal safety within the United States are at stake. While there may never be a ringing consensus in regards to the best mode of resolution, it is paramount that some kind of compromise is reached and that these senseless killings come to an end.
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