I feel like I’m beating a dead horse when it comes to discussing gun control. But I’m afraid if I stop beating it, the dead horse will soon be forgotten.
Congressional Democrats should also continue to make sure gun control is still part of the national consciousness after the Senate failed to pass a bill that would have expanded background checks to gun shows and Internet sales.
These were not dramatic steps. These weren’t even moderate steps. These were basic steps toward sensible gun control. So where is the disconnect in Congress?
Well, our senators are up for re-election in 2014, so regretfully, appeasing constituents and a money-hungry gun lobby take priority over the welfare and public opinion of the American people. Little surprise that the four Democrats who voted against background checks hail from deeply conservative states like North Dakota, Alaska, Arkansas and Montana.
College students should be particularly adamant about this issue, because gun violence has taken the greatest toll on youth. Out of the 23 wealthiest nations in the world, the United States alone accounts for 87 percent of children killed by guns. CNN revealed that firearms account for 80 percent of the 13 young people, ages 10 to 24, that fall victim to homicide daily.
A recent Pew poll showed that 60 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 30 support tough gun reform, but that doesn’t mean they are anti-gun. In fact, a new national poll conducted by American University found that 60 percent of high school and college students consider purchasing a gun at some point in their lives. The university’s research also showed that 50 percent of those who identify themselves as “depressed” or having “difficulty making friends” expressed interest in purchasing a firearm. With these statistics, we should be pushing more than ever for stricter regulation of guns — or should I say regulation, period — to make our nation safer.
Gun rights advocates seem to argue that each tragedy is another reason to do nothing. More than 80 percent of Americans support background checks, yet the big pockets and big voices are on the side of NRA-backers. Unfortunately, real gun reform will never be realized until Democrats have complete control of the government. And unless they somehow manage to steal 20 House seats in 2014, I don’t see meaningful legislation passing in the near future. But this is no reason to back down.
College students need to make this a top-priority voting issue. School shootings have been at the forefront of the gun control debate, and Republican legislators’ only solutions are more guns in schools and the allowance of concealed weapons on campuses. This is just another way for the gun industry to generate revenue, and another irresponsible move that fails to make students safer.
We don’t want to continue growing up in a world of gun violence. Just as the majority of congressional Republicans refuse time and time again to compromise on common sense gun reform measures, gun control supporters should not concede to anything less than safety laws that will protect the American people and the generations to come.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 29 print edition. Raquel Woodruff is a deputy opinion editor. Email her at [email protected]