Iman is a member of the Junior State of America (JSA), a student-run political awareness organization for high school students.
It is Saturday morning and I am on a pleasant stroll with a friend until she receives a text that says: "Play practice is canceled, school in lockdown, gunman on the loose, stay away from downtown Issaquah." She turns to me, scared for her friends, while I am bewildered by the fact that my peaceful hometown has turned into what feels and sounds like a two-block warzone. I am not afraid of guns. My school is adjacent to a shooting range; I leave school hearing gun shots. When I run the trails afterschool, I run to the music of shooting. And now with another school shooting, this time in Maryland, something must be done. I am sick and tired of mass shootings, shootings in general, and the wrong people getting powerful guns too easily.
Beyond the facts and the deaths -- U.S. homicide rates are almost seven times higher than 22 other first-world nations combined, and our firearm homicide rate is almost 20 times higher -- is the psychological fear that guns and shootings create. For several weeks after the shooting near my school, my friends and I would cringe and jump in the parking lot after school upon hearing the constant gun shots. Not only that, but every time I hear of any kind of shooting, for weeks I become fearful that my school will be the location of the next Perry Hall shooting or Columbine. I can only imagine the fear that the people in the Sikh community of Wisconsin must deal with every day now.
I acknowledge that guns in the hands of citizens have saved numerous lives and stopped countless crimes, but the majority of these encounters involved hand guns, not AK-47's or the Smith & Wesson AR-15 rifle that can shoot 60 rounds a minute -- the gun that helped James Holmes massacre an Aurora movie theatre. We can protect our Second Amendment rights by continuing to allow the purchase of hand guns and hunting rifles, but please, let's curb the sales of these assault rifles and semi-automatic guns. There are several ways we can do this.
First, we instigate more background checks on people acquiring guns and regulate or ban the sale of extremely powerful and "semi-automatic," although they seem like automatic, rifles. This should come at the cost of the gun buyer. Second, and more importantly, there needs to be an increase in regulating the second-hand gun market. This could occur with having gun market shows register with the state or having gun owners update their licenses regularly so that the government can track owners who suddenly have missing guns and fine penalties for not registering the sale with them. This industry makes it easy for criminals to get their hands on dangerous weapons without any background checks. These checks could prevent many crooks and mentally unstable people from acquiring weapons.
To those who argue that guns are our constitutional right, well, they are right -- it is. But let's clarify some things first. The amendment was for people to be able to protect themselves from foreign threats, which was very much possible at a time when our nation was both weak militarily and vulnerable to another invasion from Britain. Furthermore, our society back then was significantly more disconnected -- they didn't have planes or highways. Muskets gave them a way to protect themselves and they were also incapable of causing mass murder. However, nowadays we have by far the most powerful military in the world and a very connected nation. The chances of foreign invasion coming to your door without a blockade of military personal to make sure they never touch you is practically zero. So, if you say it is a pastime to own AK-47's, I am more than certain George Washington will raise his eyebrows at you.
In a time when our murder rate is at its lowest in 50 years, we are still behind the rest of the world. Statistically, I should feel safe, but I don't. I don't feel safe because criminals can easily get high-powered weapons and come to our places of worship, Jewish centers, cafes, movie theatres, schools, political events and many other places with the intent to kill.
In America, we value our safety and security, but I know I don't feel safe with these weapons being bought so easily and I'm sure I am not the only one who feels this way. So, can we all restore the value of security by regulating powerful guns and their ammunition. Let us enjoy America with one less thing to worry about. And in the future I hope that the gunshots I hear every day will be from the gun-range by my school and not from the street in front of it.