There are reasonable solutions to gun violence

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A little more than a month after nine Charleston, S.C. churchgoers were shot dead during a Bible study session, two women were shot and killed after John Houser walked into a movie theater and opened fire.

Events like this seemingly happen once a month and with almost every case there is one constant: the shooter should not have been able to get the gun.

Hindsight is most definitely 20/20, and every family member or friend is always surprised that their beloved Jimmy or Johnny could do something like killing someone, much less multiple people. But when is the last time you read about someone planning to kill people openly talk about it?

The killers often keep their true intentions secret, but they often have known issues that should be enough to prevent them from carrying out their plans to begin with.

Take, for instance, Dylann Roof – the admitted murderer of those nine people in Charleston. Roof was previously charged, and later admitted to, felony drug possession – enough to legally and reasonably deny his purchase of the gun he used. But, because of loopholes, clerical errors and an overall lack of urgency by government officials to address the issue of gun violence, nine people died.

Houser, who reportedly had a “history of mental illness” was able to purchase the gun he used because, despite being treated for mental health, it was not considered involuntary. So, on Valentine’s Day 2015 a man with mental illness problems, who was known to be volatile and erratic, was able to purchase a gun he would then use to kill two people and injure nine others.

It’s not just these two cases, either. The stories behind the killers are similar in many more. Yet nothing changes. President Obama holds a press conference calling for change, news channels hold panel debates on gun control, Facebook newsfeeds fill with gun owners reminding everyone of their Second Amendment right and then we sit and wait for another mass shooting.

The popular comparison for these situations is to Australia and the gun laws it enacted after a 1996 shooting. As part of those laws, it confiscated guns that it banned. It worked in Australia because not nearly as many people own firearms there as they do here. There is no evidence that the United States government could safely and successfully confiscate guns, especially considering how citizens in New York and Connecticut responded to just having to register assault rifles.

However, there are much more reasonable measures that can be taken to at least put a dent in the number of people who die each year from guns.

The first thing this country can do is address mental illnesses. Instead of looking at people with mental illness like they’re a problem, referring them to a clinic where they’ll be kept for a while before being released to a public that looks down on them – let’s encourage people to seek help and acceptance instead of hiding and ignoring an illness that could harm them and others.

Although we’ve already seen that background checks aren’t a fail-proof way to ensure guns don’t end up in the wrong hands, they could still be better. At this point, private transactions don’t require background checks. Universal background checks, which may come at a financial burden to some (but if you’re spending hundreds of dollars on a gun, that shouldn’t be a problem), would ensure that every gun that gets sold isn’t going to someone whom the law says shouldn’t have it. This is an opinion many Americans agree with, yet no political action has been made.

An alternative to universal background checks is a gun purchasing license, which requires buyers to pass a background check.

Some may say that requiring people to pay their own money to get a background check infringes on their rights, but every right has its limits. Everyone has their right to religion, but they can’t make human sacrifices as part of it. You have a right to free speech, but you cannot libel someone. Such is the case with the right to bear arms. Sure, you have that right, until it begins to threaten others. It may not be fair to the millions of responsible gun owners, but those same people likely have no problem with the extra security at airports to prevent terrorism. But what is the difference?

Gun safety laws aren’t an attack on anyone’s right and they aren’t a punishment for being a gun owner. They are a step toward fixing a problem that has plagued this country for far too long, one that will continue to go unfixed unless we all admit it.

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