Reckoning With The Hard Truths of Gun Violence
Aurora, Charleston, Chattanooga, Ft. Hood, and Newtown are towns that have all been tainted by devastating occurrences. Last week Lafayette, Louisiana was added to the list. Inside of a theatre, John Russel Houser stood up and fired at least 13 shots, killing two and wounding ten moviegoers, Houser then proceeded to take his own life. This tragic event occurred only a week after a gunman attacked two military installations in Tennessee. Mass shootings have become all too common within the narrative of our society. There have been roughly 200 shootings across the US in 2015 alone. Numbers like these are telltale signs that change is needed to gun regulation laws that are deeply intertwined in our nation’s history, but have proven to be utterly outdated.
The Second Amendment was written up for two purposes: to let citizens defend themselves from others, and to guard against government oppression. While the first reason is hard to contest, because if someone were to break into your home having a gun would undoubtedly help, the second reason has lost its luster.
“The right to bear arms” was set into action by a bunch of guys that had just finished fighting a revolution, so they wanted to make sure that future Americans could do the same if the government was to ever become tyrannical. Fast-forward 200 years and the government they built is still here, and even though it can make some questionable decisions sometimes, there seems to be a general understanding that it won’t turn into an evil monarchy. Key ideas behind this amendment have changed since its creation. Just like we’ve moved on from horse wagons to sports cars, it’s time to upgrade this archaic legislation.
Gun Sales in Light of Current Events
The list of cities affected by mass shootings grows week by week and leaves behind feelings of anguish and fear. These sentiments show major changes are needed in regards to how people go about acquiring guns. A complete ban on them would be going too far, but those looking to purchase a gun should be required to go through significant hurdles to do so.
This might seem an inconvenience to lawful gun owners, but that’s exactly what is necessary. By definition a gun is inefficient if it doesn’t kill or seriously injure someone or something, so they simply can’t be as easy to get as a car. Something that’s sole purpose is to harm has to be heavily monitored and difficult to obtain. Although some states have started tightening their gun laws, people in many states can still buy them through ‘private sales’ without undergoing any type of screening. Regulations as lax as these do not take into account the severe amount of damage these weapons can cause if they were to fall into the wrong hands.
Widespread availability of guns has given shooters the capability of carrying out rampages, but chalking it all up to that is unfair. Depression, drug abuse, and radical ideologies are all ingredients that play a part in this toxic mix. All of these factors work in unison and drive these individuals to act on their vile thoughts.
"I think guns are great equalizers, especially for people with limited voice, people on the fringes of society who may be rejected by peers or are trying to make themselves feel more accepted," Brad Bushman, a psychology professor at Ohio State University, told The New York Times. "Guns make people feel more powerful."
The people responsible for the tragedies in Charleston and Chattanooga are perfect examples. They both struggled with drug addiction and sought to make a statement through horrid acts of bloodshed. Mental health tests might be far from absolutely accurate, but the time has come to incorporate them with gun purchase screenings. Background checks that only provide access to crime records and past mental health diagnoses are simply not enough. Those seeking to buy a gun should be subjected to multiple rigorous mental health tests that offer insight on their current state of mind.
"If you look at the number of Americans killed since 9/11 by terrorism, it’s less than 100," said President Obama. "If you look at the number that have been killed by gun violence, it’s in the tens of thousands." A sickening trend that will only continue if nothing is done to limit fire arm access.
Arguments over gun restriction have gone on for years and have only escalated as more violence traumatizes communities across the nation. “I refuse to act as if this is the new normal,” said the president in light of the Charleston shooting. Let’s hope that this statement rings true, how ever the government decides to deal with this critical issue.
Photo by Paul Kieu, cartoon by Christopher Weyant