By Megan Langmyer
In today’s society we have adapted to various social issues surrounding the modification of todays’ society. We agreed that women deserved more rights than were given to them during the suffragette movement, that separate does not mean equal during the civil rights movement and teenagers led rallies to protest the social issues of the Vietnam war. These rebellious teenagers showed future generations that you are never too young to make a difference. A new wave of teenagers is speaking up on the issue of gun violence and public shootings. The outrage sparked on Valentines’ Day 2018, where 11 students and staff were murdered in a mass shooting when an 18-year-old boy with previous mental deficiencies was able to legally obtain an AR-15. Society sees that these issues are not fading away with time which is why some are advocating for stricter gun laws and others are saying that these common-sense gun laws strip away their second amendment right to bear arms. In, a sociological viewpoint this social issue would be categorized as a mesolevel problem, simply for the fact that this problem is a nationwide affliction and not worldwide. In 2018 alone there has been at least 17 school shootings ranging all over the United States.
This issue of gun violence is an unprecedented topic that many people have mixed emotions about. Some believe that if these stricter gun laws are enforced, all of their guns will be taken from them in an attempt at regulation. I believe that this is a social issue because as a whole nation there are more guns in circulation than there are people in the United States and these numbers are steadily increasing. This issue is affecting everyone in some way; directly or indirectly. Children have become scared to attend schools on some days, and after the Sandy Hook massacre where elementary schoolers were murdered; everyone knew that no where they went were they completely “safe”. As well of the aspects of gun violence not caring about what state or community you live in this is a problem that affects every single race, religion, gender and culture. Even secluded sects such as the Amish are directly involved when in 2006 a shooting occurred in an Amish one-room schoolhouse in Bart Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. 5 girls were killed ranged between the ages of 7 and 13 – and others were left in critical condition.(lancasterpa.com/Amish-school-shooting)
With gun violence there could quite possibly be numerous social forces influencing mass shooters and whether or not people are for or against the question of common sense gun reform. Social forces that affect the mass shooters/shootings could depend on the shooters past history, things that include child abuse, (verbal, physical or sexual) or a sense of neglect from parental figures. In a study done by Eleni Maneta, MD (Harvard Medical) she states “It is estimated that 772,000 children were victimized in the United States in 2008, and 32.6% of the victims were younger than 4 years old. One of the most important sequelae of childhood physical abuse is the increased risk for future revictimization and perpetration of violence, which in turn has devastating effects on the physical and mental health of individuals and families.” (Arata, 2000). This type of social force could be labeled as familial social forces, labeling the type of society that influenced these characteristics and behaviors. The social forces that affect the change of common gun reform; from my own research, is the ages and education background of individuals. The arguments you hear on the news is that some people believe that if government introduced common-sense gun reform, the government will take away all of their previous owned guns. For my experiment I created a survey that asked 50 people their age and opinion on the subject matter. The first question I asked was “do you believe that common sense gun reform takes away your second amendment right to bear arms?” 13 people said yes and 37 people said no. After figuring out percentages of each I then researched the individuals who answered and found that people who answered yes were mainly between the ages of 30-45 and either lived in or grew up in rural communities. I also found that educational backgrounds usually consisted of a high school degree and usually no other educational degrees or courses. The people who replied no were between the ages of 18-29, these people were usually from urbanized neighborhoods and educational backgrounds included a high school degree and most were from the middle class who were either attending college, or already graduated.
Rational Choice is defined as “the view that people behave as they do because they believe that performing their chosen actions has more benefits than costs. That is, people make rational choices based on their goals, and those choices govern their behavior.” (chegg.com) The NRA is a major non-profit organization that advocates for gun rights, while advocating for their second amendment rights they allocate campaign money to lobby politicians. “In the 2016 election, the NRA spent $11,438,118 to support Donald Trump- and another $19,756,346 to oppose Hillary Clinton.” (Fortune.com) Politicians choose to accept money from organizations such as the NRA, which endows them to support the NRA’s agenda – or to go against the NRA’s ideologies and support bills influenced by gun reform. They weigh these options and choose the benefit of campaign money over the cost of possibly not winning the next election. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students Jaclyn Corin, Alex Wind, Emma Gonzalez, Cameron Kasky and David Hogg have all started a movement that advocates for gun rights. Their rational choices are either voice your opinion and create safe environments, or to stay silent and not demand change. The ways these students want to create change is by persuading government to pass a bill that enacts common-sense gun reform. Major companies such as Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods announced that they would require all people purchasing firearms to be 21. “Adding to the wave of gun reform, banking and financial services corporation Citi announced that it would only partner with companies that require background checks to buy guns, restrict firearms sales to people who are under the age of 21 and do not sell high-capacity magazines or devices known as bump stocks that enable more rapid firing. (independent.co.uk)
In order to fix this problem of gun violence in the United States, people need to admit that there is in fact a problem. As of right now in the US, if a person is charged with a misdemeanor domestic abuse charge and it is dropped, this person is still legally able to obtain a firearm. “When a previous abuser has access to firearms, the victim is 500 times more likely to be murdered.” (lawcenter.giffords.org) Changing the way we perform background checks on people who have had a recorded past of physiological problems, domestic abuse or any aggravated assault charges could save thousands of lives each year. Other ideas that are being brought forward are banning any semi-automatic weapons; AK-15. AK-45 and any other militarized grade weapon and any high-capacity magazines or devices. In 2017 during a concert in Las Vegas a man using militarized weapons and “bump stocks” killed 58 people and injured 851 more people. Other propositions include that of getting rid of the “loophole” of purchasing weapons at events such as gun fairs, where background checks and permits are not required.
As with any violence inflicted upon the youth of a nation, one has to always remember that the lives lost within this battle should be never forgotten. These young children suffered in a way that to most people is indescribable. This is why these young adults are fighting, they are advocating for the voices that have been muffled and burned. “The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero
DeFilippis, E., & Hughes,D.(2015, October 2015). Three-common-sense-gun-policies-that-would-save-lives. Retrieved from https://washingtonpost.com/opinions/three-common-sense-gun-policies-that-would-save-lives/-2015/10/15
TheCommonSense (2018, April 23)Lawcenter.giffords.org/upcontent/uploads/2015/08/common-sense-solutions-state-laws-to-Address-Gun-Violence-Against-Women.pdf
Chegg.com.(n.d). Retrieved from http://www.chegg.com/homework-help/definitions/rational-choice-49
Lee, D. (2018). Independent Creativity. Independent Television Production in the UK, 161-176. Doi:101007/978-3-319-71670-1_7
Figure 2f from: Irimia R, Gottschling M (2016) Amish School Shooting