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MILLER: Gun violence can be prevented; so why aren't we doing it?

November 7, 2015

Miller
Two hundred and ninety-seven people are shot in the United States each day, both intentionally and unintentionally. Eighty-nine of these people will die as a result. This is triple the rate of gun deaths in other wealthy nations. Additionally, the U.S. population has 300 million guns, almost enough for every man, woman and child.

Guns are particularly problematic in Indiana, which has a D- rating from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Two people are killed every day by guns in Indiana. We do not require waiting periods, firearm registration or even licenses. Guns are allowed in bars, parks, places of worship and parking lots. There have been 24 mass shootings in Indiana since Sandy Hook, including three school shootings. A few weeks ago, a North Webster woman was shot by her dog named Trigger.

It is far too easy, not just to carry a gun, but to handle it carelessly. We do not let people drive cars without proving competence, so why would we not do the same for firearms?

Despite all of this senseless violence, there is good news. Gun violence is preventable. While we cannot take back the past, we can save lives in the future. The proof lies in the multitude of other countries where smart firearm regulations have drastically reduced gun deaths and injuries.

How? Gun control. This term is practically taboo for those in politics today. A vote for gun control is a vote for the NRA bankrolling your next opponent. Yet, nine of 10 Americans, including many NRA members, support universal background checks.

As a supporter of safer gun laws, I would like to clarify a few points. I do not want to take away all guns or infringe anyone’s Second Amendment rights. However, when those rights continually violate other people’s right to live, there has to be better regulation.

The background check system is not nearly effective enough, due to exemptions for online sales, gun shows and private sales. A felon, or even a child, can easily purchase a gun online. More expansive background checks should be widely adopted.

Universal background checks have proved to be safe and effective, blocking at least 1 million convicted felons from buying a firearm, and by extension preventing hundreds of deaths. These checks do not violate privacy laws, as the information is already public record. Universal background checks are not about banning guns, but preventing bad people with violent intentions from getting guns with ease.

While reinstating the Federal Assault Weapons Ban would be ideal, another common-sense regulation is reducing the maximum number of bullets in magazine clips. High-capacity magazines are often used in mass shootings and make it easier to shoot many people quickly. A reduction in capacity could drastically reduce fatalities and injuries in assaults.

Reading about a school shooting or mass assault has become commonplace. It happens every day in this country. Each time we are appalled, each time we pledge to stop this horrific violence, yet each time, we do nothing. We stand by and let it happen because somehow it is never the time to address gun violence.

I do not feel safe when I see others touting guns in public spaces. I do not feel safe as I hear of the latest college shooting tragedy, fearing which campus will be next. Enough is enough. The United States must take a stand against gun violence, for the safety and security of everyone.•

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Miller studies policy analysis at Indiana University and works as political director for the College Democrats of Indiana. Send comments on this column to ibjedit@ibj.com.

 

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