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Mental fitness should be pre-requisite for gun ownership

By Max Conlin

The Las Vegas tragedy on Oct. 1 represented the 273rd mass shooting in America this year alone. With 29.7 out of every million people being victims of gun violence in The United States, it is time for a change.

Today, “an estimated 55 million American own guns,” according to the Washington Post, and that is totally fine. It is their right to own a firearm. The Second Amendment guarantees the right of the people to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment should not be abolished, but it is time for a change in our gun policies.

Americans own 265 million guns across the country, and of those 265 million guns, 133 million of them are owned by 3% of adult gun owners in America. That averages out to 17 guns to each person in that 3% group of gun owners, according to Fox News. It is simply too many for one person to have.  

Many firearms are obviously breakable and need parts for maintenance, but if one wants to buy more firearms even when they have multiple already, they should have justifiable reasons and be able to pass a mental stability test for more firearms.

According to CNN “there were 464,033 total gun deaths between 1999 and 2013: 270,237 suicides (58.2% of total deaths); 174,773 homicides (37.7%); and 9,983 unintentional deaths (2.2%).  Guns were the leading cause of death by homicide (66.6% of all homicides) and by suicide (52.2% of all suicides). Firearms were the 12th leading cause of all deaths, representing 1.3% of total deaths topping liver disease, hypertension, and Parkinson’s disease, as well as deaths from fires, drowning, and machinery accidents. American children under age 15 were nine times more likely to die in a gun accident than children in other advanced wealthy countries. About 200 Americans go to emergency rooms every day with gunshot wounds.”

All of these stark facts point to why we need to place stricter gun laws.

Many supporters of the NRA and gun owners, in general, would argue that if our country passes stricter laws, they would not be able to feel safe. I truly understand what they are saying. The police cannot protect all citizens, and many believe that guns are their best self-defense. I certainly believe in that and stand with those, but many people who own guns do not own them for the right reasons.

According to The Atlantic, “death certificate data indicate that 680 Americans were killed accidentally with guns each year between 2003 and 2007. Half those victims were under the age of 25.” If homeowners want to own guns to protect their homes and family, they need to be mentally fit so that no fatal accidents happen. It helps keep the program consistent and more reliable. Even if one person commits a mass shooting like Sandy Hook or Las Vegas, we as a country have to reflect on our laws and come to an agreement.

It is very hard to stop people from purchasing firearms, and it is even harder to predict when a mass shooting will happen. These are ordinary people committing acts of domestic terrorism. NRA supporters will argue that “background checks stop over 2.8 million people from buying guns,” according to the NRA, but they do not state many important facts. People who have been convicted of violent crimes have a history with drugs or alcohol, were convicted of juvenile offenses and people who suffered from mental illness are all allowed to buy guns when they clearly should not be.

I want to create a test that questions people’s mental capability and that person must pass with a certain score in order to purchase a gun. Also, if the person does pass, they are clearly mental stable and are then allowed to buy a gun. But that person must renew their test results every half decade to make sure they are still in good condition. A program such as this would stop people who shouldn’t own guns and it would cut down on American lives lost. There are a few countries such as Japan that have a basic fundamental test, but this mental test takes the idea of a mental fitness test a step further.

This type of test would make sure that only people who are healthy and mentally stable will be the ones with the firearms. Also if we cut down on the unfit people buying firearms, gun deaths, suicides, and homicides rate would go down tremendously. That is one of the great dreams of America and the American people. This law will make people feel safer than they already do and it will cut down the total on American deaths which will build a greater country.

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