Warning: This column contains information on gun violence and self-harm.
Gun violence is the number one killer of youth and teens in both Ohio and America.
That’s a statistic that probably catches you by surprise — and it is surprising. Car accidents and drug overdoses take second and third to an epidemic that is rattling our nation everyday.
Why are we so far behind other countries in doing something about it?
The Second Amendment leaves a lot of room for interpretation in its language.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
As a result, each state has developed its own independent gun laws, creating an even greater divide when 120 Americans are already being shot and killed every single day.
Ohio has some of the most relaxed gun laws in the United States, losing an average of 1702 people to gun violence each year. This ranks the state at the 24th-highest rate of gun deaths in the U.S.
Most recently, Gov. Mike DeWine passed the right for gun owners to permitless carry. This means that Ohio gun owners over the age of 18 no longer need to apply and be granted a permit, nor complete the eight hour training course to carry and conceal. Gun owners also no longer need to inform police officers if they are carrying.
Ohio also fails to require background checks and allows for teachers to be armed with a minimum of only 24 hours of training. Most notably, Ohio has the potential to become a “Second Amendment sanctuary” state through H.B. 51. This would mean that any Second Amendment restrictions that pass federally would be unenforced in Ohio.
The rate of gun deaths in Ohio has increased by 52% from 2012 to 2021 compared to a 39% increase nationwide. In those same nine years in Ohio, gun suicide has increased by 25% and gun homicide has increased by 94%.
Gun violence costs the state of Ohio $22.3 billion per year, $493.7 million of which is paid for by taxpayers. This averages to $1904 per resident per year, which is the 24th highest national societal cost of gun violence.
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With these stats, you would think that Ohio would be moving in the opposite direction: introducing bills that protect our children, schools and communities. Instead, the opposite is happening, and there is blood on the hands of those responsible.
Our lawmakers continue to fail us.
While we will continue to advocate for sensible gun laws, the time has come to realize the impact that the gun manufacturers themselves can have in protecting us. Unlike lawmakers, they have no need for votes to enact safety measures. Industry executives could decide to stop making AR-15s today, but they need to know that the people demand change.
It’s time that students stand up to the industry that is killing us. That means ensuring that the places we are paying to attend aren’t allowing their endowments to be invested in the gun industry.
The gun industry rakes in a staggering $9 billion each year — profiting off the lives lost. While colleges and universities will often invest in both private and public industries through their endowments, we have the right as students to demand our schools invest in areas that keep us safe.
We call on the Miami University administration to formally pledge to never invest in the gun industry and to withdraw any current investments. Miami has a moral responsibility to keep their students safe, which starts by fighting against an industry that has already taken too many lives.
It’s time for us to use our voices toward legislators, manufacturers and our own universities to fight for our rights to a safe education and community.
If our lawmakers choose to ignore the lives lost and families impacted by gun violence everyday, we will force them and the industry executives themselves to listen to our fight, and we won’t stop until the violence ends.
Raquel Hirsch and Peren Tiemann are the co-presidents of Students Demand Action (SDA) at Miami University. Hirsch is also a staff writer for The Miami Student. SDA meets every Monday at 5 p.m. in Williams Hall, room 112. You can find the organization on Instagram @studentsdemand.miamioh or by texting STUDENTS to 644-33.