It’s been one year since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, took the lives of seventeen people (fourteen students and three school staff members). That incident prompted action from students across the country to speak out about the need for gun control laws.
On this anniversary of the Parkland shooting, students around the country took a moment to remember the victims of this tragic day. Here are Xyza, we wanted to share one Junior Reporter’s perspective on gun control. Check out Junior Reporter Vedant H.’s thoughts below:
Junior Reporter Perspective: Gun Control
By Vedant H.
On February 14, 2018, nineteen-year-old Nikolas Cruz claimed seventeen lives in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. After nine months, there still has not been any movement to restrict firearms from mass murderers. Hello, my name is Vedant H., and I attend Thornton Junior High School in Fremont, California, as an eighth grader. As a US citizen and future constituent, I believe that it is time to raise the minimum age to purchase assault rifles and shotguns. I urge you to write and spread awareness about raising the minimum age to buy assault rifles and shotguns in the US from eighteen to twenty-one before more innocent people fall victim to gun violence.
To begin with, mass shootings committed by people under the age of twenty-one usually use shotguns and assault rifles as the main weapons; cutting off their legal access to those guns could prevent or delay these mass shootings. According to data collected by motherjones.com, there have been 106 mass shootings in the US from 1982 to the present day. Fifteen of those mass shootings have been committed by people under twenty-one; thirteen used semi-automatic weapons; four included the use of shotguns; seven included assault rifles; and two included both. That is thirteen shootings too many whose death counts could have been reduced. How many more need to die before the country finally realizes what needs to be done?
Furthermore, eighteen to twenty-one-year olds are still not as emotionally mature as adults above age twenty-five. A study taken by the American Psychological Association (Article by: Laurence Steinberg, Ph.D., “While Adolescents May Reason As Well As Adults, Their Emotional Maturity Lags, Says New Research”) shows that adolescents in the age group of eighteen to twenty-one have a significant difference in psychosocial maturity from the age group of twenty-six to thirty. “Adolescents likely possess the necessary intellectual skills to make informed choices about terminating a pregnancy but may lack the social and emotional maturity to control impulses, resist peer pressure, and fully appreciate the riskiness of dangerous decisions,” said Laurence Steinberg, PhD, a professor of developmental psychology at Temple University and lead author of this study. Steinberg also mentioned, “This immaturity mitigates their criminal responsibility.” Steinberg pointed out that teens are not criminally responsible and not as risk-averse as people in their late twenties. In conclusion, people under the age of twenty-one may not have the emotional maturity to make the right decisions while owning a gun.
Opponents may argue that late adolescents will just find another way to obtain semi-automatic guns through illegal methods like the black market and unlicensed sellers. Though they still may be able to receive those guns from their parents, etc., it will certainly discourage any underage criminals looking to purchase a gun. Multiple deaths can be preventable if the age limit prevents any young adults being able to purchase murder weapons. German Lopez, a writer from American news website Vox, says “The simultaneous implementation of laws targeting multiple firearms restrictions are associated with reductions in firearm deaths.” He got this information from a review of studies about gun control. Yes, some people need protection from all the violence in today’s society, but then you should also ask yourself, “Which demographic can I trust to not hurt others with guns?” Eighteen to twenty-one-year olds may not be the ones.
If we truly want the safety and security of our state, we need to keep guns safe from the wrong hands. I implore you to spread awareness regarding raising the minimum age of purchasing a semi-automatic rifle from eighteen to twenty-one.