Since September 2012, over 30 students and faculty have been killed in gun-related deaths by American students on or near their school’s campus. When it comes to gun violence across the country, the problem becomes a much larger epidemic with 30,000 deaths per year across the country from legal and illegal guns.
As young people, we consider it necessary to curb gun violence in the United States. However, the means to go about doing so have proved to spark significant partisanship and political debate. We know that reform is seriously needed, although politicians consider reform to be unnecessary. Ann Coulter and Representative Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) nicely turn attention away from guns, claiming that America does “not [have] a gun problem,” but rather “a people problem, […] a cultural problem.”
Looking at the facts however, these claims remain unsubstantiated. The United States has seen a nearly universal decline in crime over the past two decades. While violent crime has decreased since 1993, according to FBI reports, the rate of firearm homicides has essentially remained steady. (And violent crime rates actually increased in the first half of 2012.)
Opponents of gun control reform shift the discussion away from guns, placing the blame on the effects of media and culture. Are video games and movies that portray violence really the reason why the United States is seeing steady rates of firearm homicides, while Japan and South Korea average around zero? America has tried to take an easy escape, placing the blame for this gun epidemic on the constantly transforming entertainment industry.
A group of young people from the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network decided that it was finally time to take a stance on the issues relating to the gun violence epidemic in the country. Millennials developed 12 actionable and concrete policy recommendations that aim to comprehensively address gun violence in America. Our approach is to provide solutions and commentary that does not lay the sole blame on any one specific issue in society.
To that end, the United States should look at the following recommendations, focused on gun control, background checks, access to mental health services, and cultural changes in American media.
1) Ban to limit all firearms that are semi-automatic and have an ability to accept interchangeable magazines.
2) Ban all firearms that could have magazines holding 10+ rounds and magazines with that capability.
3) Ban military-grade ammunition.
4) Introduce local buy-back programs for prohibited weapons and eliminate “grandfathering-in” of prohibited weapons, firearms and bullets.
5) Develop a national gun registry and require background checks for purchase of firearms.
6) Extend the waiting period for investigating parties to complete thorough background checks.
7) Expand on-campus psychotherapy in higher education institutions.
8) Improve and expand insurance coverage of mental illness and addiction.
9) Pass and expand the “Mental Health First Aid and Higher Education Act.”
10) Reclaim the public voice.
11) Frame the debate for gun control as a campaign against violence.
12) Direct our concerns toward victims and healing.
Only 10 days into the year, while Vice President Joe Biden was giving his remarks on gun violence in a nationally televised press conference, Taft Union High School in California saw 2013’s first school shooting where a student was critically injured. Events like these take place regularly.
Until we address the key issues leading to gun violence in America, the loss of 30,000 lives each year will serve as a tragic reminder of our inability to act. This is why the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network launched the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, in an effort to delineate reasonable solutions, including firearm and ammunition regulations, more complete background checks, improving mental health coverage, and addressing the role of the media, to limit ongoing violence.
We are pleased to submit our recommendations to curb gun violence in America, hereby committing to work towards an end to the term “gun violence.”