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The Paly Voice

The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

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Gun Control: It’s not just improving your stance

I was present when my grandfather purchased a handgun in Nevada. The process took about 30 minutes and we were able to walk out of the store with a pistol. It was unregistered, and despite having a 14-year-old with him, who picked out the gun and asked to handle it, the sales staff was perfectly fine with selling him the gun. While he was not making a straw purchase, he very well could have been, and the store was seemingly indifferent to this possibility.

On October 1, the deadliest mass shooting in the United States transpired in Las Vegas. The incident amplified the constant national debate about gun control. In 2017 alone, there have been over 11,000 deaths directly due to gun violence, according to an independent research group. The number of deaths due to gun violence is absolutely outrageous. The necessity for increased regulations against firearms is evident, especially firearms that accept “high capacity” magazines. 

 I have been shooting since the age of 13, received training from a National Rifle Association certified instructor, and have been through the process of purchasing a firearm several times, in both California and Nevada. I have researched gun laws for countless hours, not only for essays but for personal knowledge as well. I am particularly well versed in the gun laws of California and Nevada, as I helped my grandfather transfer his firearms legally when he moved from Nevada to California. California has some of the strictest gun laws in the United States: The most significant of which is the waiting period. After purchasing a gun, the purchaser must wait 10 days before they take possession of the firearm. Only ten other states have similar regulations, and Nevada is not one of them. A waiting period can help to reduce violent impulsive decisions, such as suicide. A waiting period provides more time to seek counseling or help. Not only does California have a waiting period, but it also has the most restrictive laws regarding semi-automatic rifles. 

In January of 2018, California will also require background checks for ammunition purchases. People interested in buying ammunition would have to purchase a four-year permit from the Department of Justice. Among the new restrictions coming in 2018, there will be more regarding assault weapons as they are colloquially known. Many of these regulations should serve a national model on reasonable gun laws. For example, if one is purchasing ammunition for a weapon that you must be 18 years or older to possess, it would make sense that you should be subject to screening. California has a 7.7 firearm death rate per capita, while Nevada has a death rate of 14.9.

After the Las Vegas shooting, police found bump stocks, designed to simulate automatic fire. While automatic weapons are heavily restricted in the United States, weapon manufacturers found a loophole. Known as bump firing, it is a stock that utilizes the recoil produced by the weapon to force the trigger into the shooter’s finger. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms decided that since the device does not mechanically alter the rifle, and is rather an accessory, they could not outlaw it. In the aftermath of the shooting, several Republican lawmakers supported banning the device. There is no valid reason for private citizens to possess unregulated devices that allow their firearms to essentially fire automatically. These types of devices should be placed under the same designation as machine guns and must be strongly regulated. The fact that even the NRA has called for a review of the devices should be very telling of their destructive power and their illegitimacy in the marketplace.

The shooting also created blowback for the Hearing Protection Act, a piece of legislation proposed by Republicans in January. This legislation would do away with the additional Federal requirements, such as a $200 tax fee and change federal regulations for suppressors, and remove the registration of suppressors.

Those who vilify this legislation claim that the suppressors would make it impossible for anyone to hear the gunshots.The idea that a suppressor will make a gun silent is ludicrous and unbased. In independent tests that adhered to military standards, the highest performing suppressor reduced noise by 30 decibels. The sound produced by a rifle with a suppressor is equivalent to a jet engine. In fact, in an ATF document, Ronald Turk, the Chief Operating Officer of the ATF says, “Given the lack of criminality associated with silencers, it is reasonable to conclude that they should not be viewed as a threat to public safety necessitating NFA classification, and should be considered for reclassification under the GCA.” Additionally, in Britain, anyone who is licensed to own a gun is able to buy a suppressor.  

Legislating against a type of firearm is not the solution to the gun violence sweeping the nation. Rather, we should focus on a common denominator between most guns: magazine size.There is no reason for civilians to possess magazines with capacities of 30+ rounds. There should be Federal legislation limiting magazine size to 10 rounds or less. While tightening restrictions is advantageous in reducing the amount of damage that can be done, placing the same regulations on suppressors as machine guns and short barrel weapons is excessive for a device that serves to reduce the amount of an earache the shooter receives. Suppressors serve a valid purpose in the civilian market. Being able to hunt without earplugs is invaluable for hunters who need to hear in order to communicate, as well as being able to hear the animal they are pursuing.

As a first step in reducing gun violence, other states should adopt regulations similar to those of California. Implementing a federal mandatory waiting period would serve to reduce the number of impulsive gun suicides, as well as shootings. Additionally, devices that simulate fully automatic fire serve no legitimate purpose in the civilian market, as it does nothing to improve accuracy or control, but rather allows civilian weapons to mimic military weapons.

About the Contributor
Finn Mennuti
Finn Mennuti, Multimedia Manager & Business Manager