Content warning: This article discusses mental health and self-harm
Being part of a movement to save lives is monumental and allows me to create the change I want to see in the world. We all want to see a better world that reflects and advances a cause we care about, whatever that may be.
For me, that is gun violence prevention, a phrase that simply means saving lives through common-sense gun legislation. Although the term common-sense means something different for each person, here is exactly what I stand for. And, no, I don't want to take guns away (and I will explain why).
Safe storage laws
One of the most basic — and yet, often overlooked — policies are safe storage laws. These allow a responsible gun owner to store their firearms in a locked safe where only the owner has the code and where ammunition is separate from the gun.
This ensures that the gun owner will use their gun responsibly and keep it away from those facing mental health issues or suicidal thoughts or actions.
There is no question that mental health plays a part in gun violence, but for different reasons than you may think. People mistakenly believe, as I once did, that those with mental illnesses are more likely to enact a measure of gun violence. That is not the case. Some statistics show that 95 – 97 percent of those with a mental illness do not carry out homicidal gun violence, according to the National Institute of Health. They are, in fact, more likely to be victims of gun violence.
So what does that mean for mental health? It means that gun violence and mental health are linked more through suicide. In other words, suicide by firearm accounts for an incredibly high death rate at 85 percent. Also, if mental health issues were to be eliminated, gun violence would only decrease by 4 percent.
That scary phrase “assault weapons ban”
Gun rights activists start to spiral into worry when they hear the phrase "assault weapons ban." According to the one proposal's language, which you can read for yourself here, it allows the "continued possession, sale, or transfer of a grandfathered SAW [semiautomatic assault weapon], which must be securely stored." Plain and simple, you can keep your gun.
One thing the bill would prohibit is the "sale or transfer of a grandfathered LCAFD [large capacity ammunition feeding device]" which makes your gun perform at an abnormally fast and dangerous rate.
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I probably cleared up some stereotypes, but overall, I do not believe that taking guns away is the answer. Guns are a form of safety and security for many and a hobby for others. However, I will not accept that people can legally buy a gun before they can legally buy a drink. I will not accept that the gun laws in this country were made to protect gun owners and not the common people.
I will always fight for a better tomorrow so that no one has to go through the tragedy of gun violence. Let us set aside partisan politics and work together to create the future we want to see.