Editorial: American gun policy requires basic reform


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In 1984, New York became the first state to require seatbelts for every person riding in a motor vehicle. Over the next decade, every state except New Hampshire passed laws to ensure every adult and child wore seatbelts in cars. Over the same time period, the death rate from automobile accidents decreased nearly 10 percent, according to the National Highway Transit Safety Board. This government regulation was part of a push to save lives, as over 45,000 people died in car accidents each year.

The government has the responsibility to protect the lives of its citizens by regulating problems that claim thousands of lives annually.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 33,000 people die each year from gun-related incidents. In 32 states, people can purchase firearms at gun shows without undergoing a background check for criminal history. From the large-scale massacres that appear too often on the news to the daily shootings that go unnoticed, gun violence is a crisis throughout our country. However, there have been no successful legislative efforts to combat the epidemic of gun violence.

Gun rights advocates are correct that the Constitution plainly states that Americans have the right to bear arms. However, the government can take steps to save American lives through gun reforms.

Universal background checks, including for online sales, would keep guns out of the hands of those with malicious intent. Banning assault weapons would ensure that large machine guns stay in war zones rather than on the streets of American cities and towns. The same ban was law from 1994-2004, and led to a 45 percent decrease in crimes committed with assault weapons. Neither of these reforms would abridge the Constitutional rights of Americans.

The Declaration of Independence guarantees “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” We Americans will never be secure in our liberty and happiness if we continue losing lives to gun violence.

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