Joe Biden demands change after Texas mass school shooting
White House

US president Joe Biden said it was time to “turn this pain into action” and change gun laws following the horrific mass shooting at a Texas elementary school that killed at least 21 people.

“Why are we willing to live with this carnage?” a visibly emotional Biden said. “Where in God’s name is our backbone to have the courage to deal with this and stand up to the [gun] lobbies?”

America has the weakest gun laws among developed nations. Not only is it incredibly easy for people to acquire guns, but the US has far more guns than any other country. According to an analysis bySmall Arms Survey,there were estimated to be around 120.5 guns per 100 residents in 2017. Firearms outweighed people.

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Additionally, the US’ civilian gun death rate is nearly four times that of Switzerland, five times that of Canada, 35 times that of the United Kingdom, and 53 times that of Japan, as per a 2018 study by JAMA.

It's easy to assume all guns would be banned or repossessed under US gun control. However, realistically it would be a few tweaks.

Jon Lowy, director of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence's Legal Action Center, said: "The basic breakdown for most of it is, who should be allowed to buy guns, how should they be allowed to buy them and what should they be allowed to buy?"


Background checks

There are several ways to buy guns in the US. You can purchase them from a licensed retail outlet, a gun show, online, and through a private sale. Background checks are required for gun purchases through a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) such as retailers. The 4474 forms take around "30 seconds" to complete, according to Criminal Watchdog.

"If there is nothing on your record that prohibits you from buying a gun, you can go ahead with your purchase," their site explained.

Massachusetts background checks, however, can take weeks – if not months. People submit a photograph and fingerprints, undergo a training course and attend interviews with law enforcement.

“The end impact is you decrease gun ownership overall,” Cassandra Crifasi, a researcher (and gun owner) at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, told Vox. “Lots of folks think, ‘Well, it’s probably not worth going through all these hoops to buy firearms, so I’m not going to buy one.’ And then you have fewer firearms around and less exposure.”

"That adds significant barriers for even a would-be gun owner who has no ill intent or bad history. People do not need to undergo a background check if purchased through some private sales."



Clip size

High capacity magazines (the container that holds ammunition) are used "in virtually all of these mass shootings that you see," Lowy told NPC. "High capacity magazines are what enable you to engage in this prolonged assault."

According to the news outlet, Connecticut bans assault weapons but does not ban high-capacity magazines.

"I don't know anyone in the sporting or hunting arena that goes out with an assault rifle," West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, considered a supporter of gun owners' rights, said previously on MSNBC's Morning Joe.

"I don't know anyone that needs 30 rounds in a clip to go hunting. I mean, these are things that need to be talked about."



Concealed carry

After the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, some states extended the right to carry concealed weapons onto college campuses. The day before the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, the Michigan Legislature passed legislation to allow citizens to have concealed weapons in more places, including schools.

Congress has previously enacted provisions that allow people to carry firearms in national parks and on Amtrak trains.

Some have argued that it should be easier to carry weapons for self-defence. Speaking on how the Sandy Hook shooter turned the gun on himself, Harry L Wilson, director of the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research at Roanoke College, told the NPC: "You could then make the argument someone on site could have stopped him sooner,"

"No one's going to suggest arming 6- or 7-year-olds, but someone may suggest arming principals."



Private sales

Private transactions don't always require background checks.

"Forty per cent of sales are done without background checks," says Lowy of the Brady Center. "This is the top of the list of policies that should be considered."

According to polling conducted this summer for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, 74 per cent of members of the National Rifle Association and 87 per cent of non-NRA gun owners support making background checks universal for all gun purchases.


To find out how you can help after the fatal shooting at Robb Elementary School in Texas, click here.

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