In 1620, the Pilgrims sailed to America aboard The Mayflower, bringing only their most treasured items with them to the new country. Historians believe amongst all of the keepsakes and family heirlooms stored away below deck, the Pilgrims brought their firearms.

Guns have long played an important role in the history of America. Oftentimes, firearms are viewed as symbols of freedom and power in our country. Looking back, it is no surprise that guns are seen in this light. From early explorer Christopher Columbus sailing to America on his ship loaded with cannons, to early settlers using guns to hunt and kill animals to feed their families, as well as “The shot heard ‘round the world” that initiated the American Revolution, guns have often been associated with the American ideology of liberty and patriotism.

In recent years, guns have been spending a lot of time in the public eye. However, much of this attention has been negative. Within the last twenty years, there has been an outbreak of mass shootings across our country. In 1999, thirteen individuals were killed and twenty-four were injured at the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado. Later, in July of 2012, twelve were killed and fifty-eight were injured at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Then, in December of 2012, a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and proceeded to shoot twenty first-graders and six adults. And yet again, this past June, forty-nine people were killed while dozens others were injured at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida—making it the deadliest mass shooting to ever occur on U.S. soil.

Around 37 percent of American adults own a gun in their household, according to Pew Research. Many have urged the American government to create stricter laws on obtaining guns. Some have even pleaded that firearms be banished once and for all. However, opposing sides have argued that guns cannot be taken away, stating that it would violate the second amendment of the American Constitution.

To better understand why there are such strong opposing sides on this topic, Ball Bearings sat down with a military veteran, several students, a member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and the president of Hoosiers Concerned About Gun Violence.Their responses indicate how guns have affected their lives personally as well as what role they think guns play in American society.

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