Voices: Violence prompts call for control
Gun violence has been on the rise, and the casualties from these violent acts, and the senseless death toll has led to many recent calls for a reform of gun laws.
From the Columbine High School shooting, the deadliest mass murder committed on an American high school campus — to the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting — the second deadliest mass murder at an American elementary school — gun ownership and the laws that govern it is fast becoming an important issue in the American society.
The two students who executed the Columbine massacre had been stockpiling ammunition for months before the shooting took place. They purchased handguns, shot guns and a rifle. They shot and killed 12 students, one teacher and injured another 21 students.
On July 20, 2012, a gunman shot up a theatre during a midnight screening of the movie “The Dark Knight Rises.” This gunman, dressed in military clothing, used a 12-guage shotgun, a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun.
The most recent mass murder, which happened in Newtown, CT. took the lives of 20 children and six teachers. This gunman had three semi-automatic rifles, a .223-caliber rifle, a glock handgun, a SIG Sauer P226 handgun as well as a combat shotgun. He also had access to more guns at home.
There is a clear divide between people who want more stringent gun control legislation and those who believe the Right to Bear Arms should remain as a freedom. However, the recent shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary has renewed calls for gun reforms and defense of gun rights.
Those who think owning a gun is a right afforded by the Constitution are justified. Some of these people make statements such as, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” and “if guns kill people, then pencils misspell words and cars make people drive drunk.”
Anti-gun control supporters argue that people who use guns to hurt people will ignore laws controlling laws. Indeed they will. Thugs, thieves and gang members have no respect for these laws so they will disregard new reforms on gun ownership laws along with every other law.
They also argue that guns are inanimate objects that cannot cause harm unless someone consciously decides to use one to target those without protection, not those who carry guns.
The pro-gun control supporters argue that no right is absolute. For instance, the First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech, but no one is allowed to make libelous or slanderous statements about anyone they wish to; it would be grounds for a lawsuit.
Advocates of gun-control legislation also claim it would be dangerous to try to take out a mass murderer even when armed. A few hours in the gun range does not make one Arnold Schwarzenegger when one comes face to face with a deranged, gun-toting criminal.
Gun possession is the right of every citizen as afforded by the constitution, but there is a need for gun laws to be changed and more stringent. When the steps toward gun ownership become tougher to meet, guns will be available to only those who are fit to use them.
Stringent gun-control legislation is not the only solution available for decreasing gun-related violence. According to the National Rifle Association Vice President Wayne LaPierre, fixing the country’s broken mental health system should be a part of the solution to gun violence.
“I think we can agree that our mental health system is broken. We need to look at the full range of mental health issues, from early detection treatment, to civil commitment laws, to privacy laws that needlessly prevent mental health records from being included from the national list,” he said.
President Obama’s gun control policies call for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines as well as a universal background check on gun owners. This is step in the right direction in a nation where picking up a gun and shooting innocent people is becoming all too common.
As much as guns are a part of the American culture, there is a point where lines should be drawn. That point should start when innocent children, parents, moviegoers, teachers and others are killed because a gun fell into the hands of the wrong person. We as a nation should perform our duties as citizens, participate in elections to remove representatives who do not reflect our beliefs.