The United States has gained quite a reputation for being gun happy among the industrialized world, and unfortunately, the numbers make it pretty clear. Although complete data for 2017 has yet to be released, over 420 mass shootings have taken place in the U.S. That breaks down to well over one shooting a day. These numbers do not even begin to take into account the smaller acts of gun violence that had also taken place this past year. Examining the data from comparable countries reveals some startling data: other industrialized countries just don’t seem to have the same gun problem we do. There are a lot of different factors that need to be taken into account, but no one can argue that their stricter gun control laws have nothing to do with this. Not surprising, there is a correlation between gun ownership and gun violence, and American civilians own a lot of guns. Although only 37% of Americans report having a gun in their household, estimates claim that there are anywhere between 270 million and 310 million firearms owned by civilians in the U.S. alone. Research has provided countless pieces of evidence demonstrating the danger associated with such numbers, however, the U.S. continues to have some of the most lenient gun control laws of the industrialized world. Why would the federal government continue to allow such detrimental policies? They continue to allow gun regulation to be dictated by an amendment passed back in 1791. The second amendment argues that Americans have the rights to “bear arms”. There has been a decent amount of debates over what exactly this right covers; there was no doubt it was put in place to prevent the government from prohibiting weapons. Considering the political climate of the time, this law served an important purpose. However, it is not 1790 anymore. This amendment was written during the infancy of the U.S. A lot has changed over the last two centuries and perhaps we need to make changes to our laws accordingly. While the rights of the Constitution were meant to protect the people, these rights are unable to keep up with technological advances and cultural shifts. Using the second amendment to defend your handgun or hunting rifle is debatable. Using the second amendment to justify your AK-47 is ridiculous. The second amendment was written nearly a century before the first machine gun was invented. There is a huge difference between the firearms that existed back in 1791 and the machine guns available today. There is no justifiable reason to why a civilian would need to be in possession of one. As opposed to traditional firearms, machine guns can fire multiple rounds of ammunition with the single pull of a trigger without reloading. These guns were not designed for hunting sport or even defense. These guns were designed by militia with one intention in mind ? doing a lot of killing in one go. There is no better evidence for the sheer destruction these weapons can cause than the tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017. When Stephen Paddock opened fire on a crowd of more than 22,000 people with a machine gun, he took the lives of 58 people and left more than 500 injured before turning the gun on himself. Having the access to the military-grade weapon allowed him to commit the largest mass shooting in American history. This kind of gun ownership serves no other purpose than to show off or cause tragedy. This is not the kind of weapon that the second amendment could have even predicted, let alone intended. Although the government has taken some legal measures against machine guns (such as banning the sale of new fully-automatic rifles), it just isn’t enough. Although difficult, it is still perfectly legal to obtain one of the guns registered before 1986 which was grandfathered in. Even with the number of extensive fees and strict restrictions put in place to discourage this kind of gun ownership, legally getting your hands on a fully automatic machine gun is still possible. As long as obtaining a machine gun is legally possible, it is possible for it to fall into the wrong hands. Without serving any real, functional purpose, allowing any civilian machine gun ownership outside of the military seems like a risk that isn’t worth taking. Putting this ban on military grade weapons would not even infringe on the rights of other gun owners. These weapons are relatively rare and are not the kind of thing your grandpa keeps in the shed for deer hunting. Still, we as a nation have failed to do implement these stricter gun control laws without facing significant resistance. Those in favor of keeping all weapons legal often have arguments surrounding the principle of ownership. Although many recognize the danger they could cause, they argue that they want to limit government involvement and maintain their rights as declared in the Constitution. Although I can understand the argument for a limited government, there comes a time where you have to evaluate your priorities. There are other things more important than preserving the rights to own military grade assault weapons like keeping guns out of churches and schools and trying to reduce the amount of mass shootings we have. We need to start following the example of other industrialized nations who have abandoned lenient gun ownership laws in favor of public safety. And we have to decide whether we would rather be a nation with excessively lenient gun ownership, or a nation that does what it can to keep its citizens safe. Unfortunately, data shows we can’t have it both ways. I believe that keeping our citizens safe is more important than being able to brag that I can own a military grade weapon.