The day of love was painted red with tragedy with the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. This event, and many like it in the past, has brought up the discussion on gun control. The current generation must utilize their ability to vote in order to reduce gun accessibility.
Bullets and statistics
According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been over 8,000 incidents involving guns, and about 2,340 deaths nationwide so far in 2018. In Hawaiʻi, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report 66 firearm deaths in 2016, 11 more than the previous year.
According to the CDC, Hawaiʻi’s numbers are not as high as states like California and Arizona, with 3,184 and 1,094 deaths in 2016, respectively. But as long as guns remain accessible, the state is still affected by the threat of gun violence.
The core of the problem
With an issue like gun control, it is vital to analyze why mass shootings occur and how to stop them.
For University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Political Science Associate Professor and Director of the Public Policy Center Colin Moore, determining a solution begins with understanding the cause of the problem.
“Any time there is one of these incidents, what everyone always wants to say is that the guns aren’t really responsible for it. It’s someone’s mental illness ..,” Moore said. “In every country, there are people with mental illnesses. It is not something unique to the United States. What is unique in the United States is the ability of those people to access firearms. We need fewer guns.”
The issue of gun violence does not stop at the front steps of a school or highly populated area.
“There are lots and lots of gun deaths throughout the country everyday; it isn’t just these mass shootings,” Moore said. “We are talking about family members killing each other, people killing themselves … The access to guns makes it easy to do violence with those guns.”
The Gun Violence Archive also reports that along with 36 mass shootings this year, guns have been used in 359 home invasions and 266 unintentional shootings, and 543 children and teens ages zero to 17 have been injured and killed.
The current generation must work toward lowering the number of these incidents. As seen with the Florida students, protests are one way to call the government’s attention to gun violence.
However, this generation also has the power to make a change without needing to march on their state governments.
According to Moore, this “power” is the ability to vote.
“Vote! This is the reason why millenials have no political power,” Moore said. “Politicians pay a lot of attention to what elderly citizens think because they always turn up at the ballot box. [Politicians] don’t like to touch the gun issue because it is a ‘political loser.’ Knowing that this is a voting issue for young voters … will inspire some politicians to take a second look.”
Young adults must exercise their right as citizens to vote for the changes they want to see in society. Voting is one way to show the government what the people want.
“You have to play hard ball if you want to see change,” Moore said. “These students in Florida really have shown that, especially among young people, there is a desire to change. To change the gun culture in this country, and I think it’s admirable. That’s what it takes to make a change – otherwise, nothing else is going to happen.”