First and foremost, I would like to express our sympathy for the victims of the Parkland shooting this past week. Guns are a sensitive topic to debate about now and it’s important that we reflect on the tragedy at hand.
Guns. America was established, defended, and molded by the use of them. Our military has been elevated to the top of the world stage because of them. And, controversially, 42% of all American citizens own them.
A gun is a weapon. The killing mechanism of weapons such as guns places the responsibility of using them in the hands of the owner. Ideally, this use is allocated towards personal defense. Sometimes, however, insane people use these weapons to murder innocent people or pointlessly declare war.
In tough times like these, within a diverse and conflicted nation, it is easy to point fingers. Point at the NRA for providing millions of dollars in funding to the “corrupt old men on Capitol Hill.” Point at our president for failing to enact a nationwide assault rifle ban, regardless of his actions and suggestions to departments of national security. Point at the “reactionary liberals” who seized the opportunity to capitalize on their anti-gun agenda and slander those with differing opinions.
Arguments like these never accomplish anything and only cause people to salt and boil at each other. They ignore the sweeping issue of mental illness within the United States and the “criminals will always have guns” dilemma.
The question being asked should be: Do we need more gun laws, or do we need to do a better job of enforcing the gun laws we currently have?
Personally, I think we could better serve to enforce the currently enacted laws that are designed to protect citizens’ rights and lives.
The FBI has already admitted to a “faliure to act” in this year’s most recent shooting. Nikolas Cruz had been suspended for assault and expelled for undisclosed matters. He had left chilling comments of his desire to be a “professional school shooter” and disdain for law enforcement. He should not have passed the background check allowing him to legally purchase an AR-15 a year ago.
This isn’t the first time bureaucracy has failed us in relation to gun violence. After the Vegas shooting last year, it was found that the Alcohol and Tobacco Federation (ATF) failed to restrict bump stocks as an entry in written law. Bump stocks essentially convert semi-automatic weapons into full-auto ones. Police found twelve such stocks in the shooters apartment. After Parkland, President Trump has moved to ban such attachments on guns.
Guns are in circulation across the US and the world in troves. They will never go away. They are an integral part of society, for better or for worse. Restricting citizen ownership of assault rifles, handguns, or firearms in their entirety won’t solve our rampant violent crime problem; it will only serve as a catalyst for criminals to become more active against defenseless individuals.
Pictured above is a life size replica of the M1 Garand. A timeless rifle dating back to the 1940s, the Garand’s semi-automatic mechanism packs more firepower than the AR-15’s of today. They were also much easier to obtain. The Sears catalogue used to sell guns and bullets for mail order! In the days of our parents, schools would have gun clubs where students could practice their marksmanship on school grounds.
Needless to say, gun laws were much less restrictive. Yet, they were much more enforced. From 1990 to the present day, there have been 25 mass killings in American schools. From recorded history to 1989, there were 12.
Perhaps there is a middle ground to be found here. Most school shooters are 18 to 25 years old, a time where testosterone and aggression levels peak in men. Should groups of people be categorized by risk, with additional training on gun ethics and practice distributed accordingly? Requiring courses on gun safety to such groups could bring down incidents of violence tremendously.
Because of my family lineage, one of cowboys and soldiers dating back to the 1700’s, the responsibility of gun ownership runs through our blood. More people need proper training and experience on how to properly use such weapons before they purchase one for themselves. They need to accept the responsibility they gain when they purchase a gun and realize the exclusively personal defense role they serve.