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Time to Admit That US Gun Laws Need Change

Sep 5, 2008
Not for the first time, tuning in to the morning news revealed details of another gunman in the US taking to the streets and ending the lives of innocent people. Gun crime in the US continues to occur with distressing regularity, yet the availability and freedom with which individuals can purchase firearms remains an issue that needs focused attention.

With just two months until the presidential elections, the issue of firearms demands attention from both candidates. The latest example of example of gun-related crime in the state of Washington left six individuals dead, with the murderer reportedly known to local authorities as 'someone with a mental illness'. As an outsider looking in, it is this disturbing nature of gun crime in the nation and the easy access to firearms that is nothing short of remarkable.

With alarming regularity, news reports tell us about an unnerving number of firearm incidents. Of course gun crime is not isolated to the US alone, nor is carried out or condoned by the majority of responsible individuals throughout the nation in possession of weapons. But here in Britain, the overriding impression is that one can walk into a store and pick up a firearm as easily as a pint of milk.

The implementation of the five-day waiting period of Brady Bill between 1993 and 1998 seemed to do little to combat the problem, however the updated law - which means checks can be completed in just a few minutes - looks to be as similarly ineffective. As it currently stands, anybody looking to purchase a weapon will be required to undergo a computerised background check via the National Instant Check System (NICS). If you past is clear from criminal activity, it is likely that you could be leaving the shop in minutes with your firearm in hand.

Once again, the system does little to limit the availability of firearms to the majority, and it is the ease with which they can be purchased that is the problem. Surely ever man in the United States does not need a weapon to protect his home. The argument that restricted access to arms infringes on the constitution and the self defense of the individual becomes a nonsense when lives are being needlessly lost due to inappropriate people being given access to weapons.

Yes the mantra 'guns don't kill people, people kill people' is certainly true, but by taking away the means for killing a number of people will limit deaths. Think how many students at Columbine could've been spared had Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold not had access to firearms? How many people at Virginia Tech could've escaped with their lives had Seung-Hui Cho not been in possession of his Glock?

It doesn't take a genius to see that the gun laws in the US are not working. I, along with millions of others, will just hope that those six individuals in the state of Washington did not die in vain, and that either John McCain or Barack Obama can face up to the realisation that the current guns laws are not working and need urgent review.

Quite frankly, the incoming politicians that are supposed to be working in the best interests of the public need to realise that the NRA's insistence that it is a civil liberty to hold a firearm is only exacerbating a problem that costs lives.
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