Remember back in February when we had the school shooting in Parkland and we started having protests because people were mad that, you know, kids were dying? Yeah, remember that? Do you also remember how nothing actually changed? Well, now is the time to fix that.
With midterm elections just around the corner, it’s time to recall these issues that seem to fade into the background a month after they happen and actually do something about it. The first question is: What do we do?
We know why some form of gun control is necessary. Kids are dying from a lack of regulation on dangerous weapons. I’m not going to waste too much time trying to convince anyone who doesn’t think the Second Amendment is outdated, seeing as it was written over 200 years ago when guns shot one bullet at a time, and that laws can and should be changed because that’s just common sense. Considering things like slavery were legal and women and African-Americans didn’t have the right to vote in the original Constitution, I’m sure we can all agree that some change truly is good.
There are plenty of ways to deal with the current issue of gun control. One common idea is stricter background checks. According to The Trace, current background checks are riddled with loopholes and typically take only minutes, and just 2 percent end in rejection. With the NRA controlling gun sales with little effective government regulation, guns can easily fall into dangerous hands. According to CNN, universal background checks have been associated with a 39-percent reduction in death, and federal laws expanding background checks have been predicted to reduce the death rate by 57 percent. Implementing these changes would take very little away from gun enthusiasts and would simply make the process safer.
Also on the table are mandatory trainings, practice times, waiting periods and first and second-level licensing, making acquiring a gun similar to a driver’s license. This, paired with making assault weapons and bump stocks, which are attachments that allow semi-automatic weapons to act as fully automatic weapons, illegal gives us much more comprehensive gun laws that could lead to fewer incidents such as Parkland.
Now that the midterm elections are upon us, these ideas finally have a chance to see the light of day, or should I say, the eyes of Congress. This is our first chance since Parkland to really voice our opinions on this crisis in a direct, consequential way. Many of us participated in marches and protests in the wake of the Parkland shooting, calling for these changes, among others, which is fantastic. Protesting is a great way to generate support for an issue. But no matter how many protests you go to, if you don’t actually vote for the change you’re marching for, no change will come.
In the coming weeks, look for candidates that support stricter gun control laws. In the race for Senate, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., supports banning high-capacity magazines with more than 10 bullets, and prohibiting foreign and U.N. aid that restricts U.S. gun ownership. She opposes allowing firearms in checked baggage on Amtrak trains, prohibiting lawsuits against gun manufacturers, banning lawsuits against gun manufacturers for gun violence and decreasing gun waiting period from three days to one.
Likewise, Green Party candidate Marcia Squier supports graduated licensing and training for guns and universal background checks. In contrast, Republican candidate John James considers the Second Amendment the be-all and end-all of gun control.
For governor, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer supports strengthening gun laws by adding safety locks and background checks. However, Republican Bill Schuette is endorsed by the NRA for his unwavering support of the Second Amendment.
The University of Michigan is doing its part to protect those involved in the shootings and in the protests against gun violence. In February, the University issued a statement saying that they would honor students’ rights to free speech if disciplinary actions were taken against them during protests against the Parkland shootings. The University is now awarding the 2018 Wallenberg Medal to the B.R.A.V.E. (Bold Resistance Against Violence Everywhere) Youth Leaders of the Faith Community of Saint Sabina and March For Our Lives from Parkland, Fla., on Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the Rackham Auditorium. Representatives from both groups will be present to receive this award. Now it’s the students’ turn.
The support rallied in the wake of the Parkland shooting by students and universities alike was inspiring. Millions of kids and adults banded together to make positive change. But within three months, the demonstrations faded into the shadows. We cannot let this movement die out. Now is the time to act. Vote responsibly and knowledgeably. Vote for people who will protect your rights and your schools. Now is your chance to enact change.
Dana Pierangeli can be reached at email@example.com.