Indiana Daily Student

OPINION: America is exceptionally violent


America is an incredibly violent nation. The end. 

I guess I should elaborate. Kyle Rittenhouse killed two men last year at 17. One of his initial charges was that he was a minor in possession of a deadly weapon. This charge, before even being considered by a jury, was thrown out on a technicality in the law about length of barrels. Rittenhouse walks free. 

“But that’s just one guy!” you say. Okay. Four students were killed and seven others were injured in a school shooting in Michigan Nov. 30. There have been 30 other school shootings this year at time of writing. 

NPR reports that America has far more gun deaths than other developed nations like Canada, the U.K. and Japan. Nearly 40,000 Americans died from a firearm related death in 2019, according to USAFacts. Almost 24,000 of those deaths were suicides. These numbers have been climbing for decades, but little is being done. 

The U.S. had more than 600 mass shootings in 2020. Even a pandemic couldn’t stop us! 

Our country has a gun problem. It has had a gun problem. Countless other writers have exhausted the subject. Why write about it now when nothing ever seems to change? 

Because of the polls, dear reader! Last month, a new Gallup poll showed support for stricter gun control laws are at their lowest since 2014. Just over half of Americans are in favor of tighter gun restrictions. 

And clearly unsatisfied with our own problems at home, we must spread our proclivity for violence abroad. Earlier this week, a bipartisan effort was made in the U.S. Senate to block further arms sales to Saudi Arabia on account of their atrocities against Yemen. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul, of all people, led this effort.

But the Biden administration, which promised to end American support for offensive operations in Yemen, opposed this bipartisan effort, which then failed. Our president is a bloodthirsty liar, and our Congress is no better. 

Is there anything we can do? Well, an easy thing to do would be to stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. But even then, we would still have our own problems at home. 

Indiana’s gun laws are particularly nonsensical. Nearly 45% of adults in Indiana own at least one firearm, according to CBS News. I’ve lived in Indiana my entire life. I’m not sure 45% of Indiana adults should have driver’s licenses, let alone firearms.

Speaking of licenses: you don’t need an owner’s license to use firearms in Indiana. You also don’t need a state permit to possess a rifle, shotgun or handgun.

And you’ve gotta hand it to the Republicans running our state — they get things done! Last July, Indiana Republicans passed legislation waiving lifetime handgun licensing fees. Just 24 hours later, over 7,000 Hoosiers applied for a free permit. Dear God. Indiana couldn’t use better schools or healthcare. No! Indiana needs guns. 

Indiana is an open-carry state, meaning if you have a license for a handgun, for example, you can visibly carry it on your person in most public places. I don’t know about you, but it terrifies me when people with guns on their waist walk into a Kroger. 

But it gets worse. Indiana is a “Stand Your Ground” state, meaning it’s legal to shoot someone if you feel that you, your property or someone else is being threatened. Many other states’ self-defense laws stress a “duty to retreat,” if possible, rather than resorting to violence. But why de-escalate things? It’s not like we only get one life and the definition of “feeling threatened” is very loose or anything. 

It’s not all hopeless, I suppose. Indiana does have “Red Flag” laws, which allow police to seize firearms from “dangerous and mentally ill persons.” But this isn’t enough. 

We need stricter gun control nationwide. The polls say we’re growing apathetic, so we must raise our voices now more than ever. It shouldn’t be normal for someone to openly have a gun on them in a Kroger. If we feel threatened, we should at least try to avoid killing other people. And we should make it harder, not easier, to buy guns. We must repeal these nonsensical gun laws.

No more dead students. No more mass murders. No more arms sales. America’s gun laws are dangerous and impractical — it’s a good thing we can change them. 

Jared Quigg (he/him) is a sophomore studying journalism and political science.

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