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Control the tool that has caused more deaths first

Trump has proposed a ban of e-cigarettes and vapes.
Illustration: April Kinney • The Sentry

There should be a gun ban before a vaping ban

On Sept. 11, the Trump administration announced it would begin the process of banning the sale of flavored e-cigarette products, including menthol flavored vapes. The policy is in response to the six people across the country who have died due to vape-related illness. As of Sept. 11, over 450 cases of vape-related illness have been reported.  

Vaping does deliver nicotine to the user’s body, as cigarettes do. However, the six deaths related to vaping have nothing to do with nicotine. A recent study conducted by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed that most of the cases were related to vitamin E acetate found in counterfeit marijuana products, not e-cigarette use.  

So the Trump administration has decided to ban vapes after six deaths.; a very speedy response to a relative nonissue. Colorado has placed several restrictions on vaping as well: Boulder has outlawed flavored e-cigarette products, as well as increased the legal purchasing age. Multiple other states are scrambling to enforce their own restrictions on a product that is virtually unrelated to the several deaths across the country. 

But in 2019 alone, over 10,000 have died from gun violence. According to the Center for Disease Control, 100 people die on average from gun violence every day. There have been 283 mass shootings in 2019, outnumbering the days there have been in 2019 so far. These places have since faded away from the press and the national dialogue: El Paso, Dayton, Virginia Beach, Odessa, Midland.  

Why hasn’t the United States passed any national, substantive form of gun control in over a decade? Why can’t the country do that, but it can ban a substance after a handful of deaths that are not even related to the substance itself?  

In Colorado, both conceal and open carry are legal, meaning handguns may be either hidden or openly displayed on the owner. However, both require legal permits. Background checks are required for the purchase of any firearm. But in Texas, which had two of the largest mass shootings this year, firearms do not have to be registered, and background checks are not required. According to a survey by the University of Texas, 44 percent of the population in Texas own guns.  

Often, the argument for Second Amendment rights is based in self-protection. A gun-owner can use their guns to protect people against other guns. But the shooting in an El Paso WalMart shows otherwise. Someone there certainly had a gun for “self-defense.” 22 people were killed, 24 others injured. No one was protected, gun-owners and non-gun-owners alike.  

Vaping is certainly unhealthy. There is little data regarding the long-term health detriments of vaping, though any addictive substance is bound to have some kind of harmful outcome. What there is definitive evidence on is the epidemic of gun violence. Laws that enforce gun responsibility—background checks, licensure, banning assault weapons—would not infringe upon the 2nd Amendment, but they would make our country a safer place. Vaping bans, however, have little practical purpose.  

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