Expanding threat of unchecked gun violence

As students growing up in a small town in rural Pennsylvania, we never expected to experience gun violence so close to home. Yet as young people who are passionate about ending this crisis, we are exposed to stories of gun violence on a daily basis. We hear about gun violence in Pennsylvania often with politicians only offering “thoughts and prayers.” Growing up in a country with a normalized public health gun violence crisis, it’s easy to be desensitized to it. However, the shooting of Heather Sue Campbell and Matthew Bowersox in Snyder County brought the issue to the forefront of our minds. On July 10, Heather and Matthew were shot and killed by Heather’s ex-husband. Heather had a temporary Protection From Abuse order against him, meaning he was not allowed to have firearms. Yet, in the shooting, he allegedly used a ghost gun, specifically “a homemade P80 polymer 9mm pistol.” A ghost gun is a homemade, do-it-yourself gun made from easily accessed unregulated parts made and sold by individuals, not federally licensed manufacturers. Ghost guns are unserialized, untraceable, and do not require any sort of background check, making them readily available for anyone to buy one. Even as 16-year-olds, we can purchase one by simply entering a false birthday. Most ghost guns are made with 80% completed parts, and therefore are not seen as or regulated as firearms by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). These unfinished parts can be bought online (similar to how one […]

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