Point/CounterPoint: Gun control

In 2017 alone, there have been 48,744 gun related incidents, including 282 mass shootings, resulting in 12,189 deaths. Though massacres have the power to shift opinions, the country is split on how to address gun control.

Lucas Skye

When tasked with creating a safer America, communities need to work together and create universal standards of what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to gun control in the United States. In this year alone our country has suffered 282 mass shootings and 47,744 incidents of gun violence according to the Gun Violence Archive Organization. We cannot afford to remain idle as innocent citizens are victimized because of varied and lax policies on firearms. The popular rhetoric used to stifle this progress is that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” I see this as correct, however with this logic, the U.S. should stop attempting to prevent North Korea from gaining nuclear weapons because weapons of mass destruction don’t kill people, people kill people.

A big contributor to the issue of gun control is that different places have different regulations. Those opposed to gun control often point out the rampant armed violence in Chicago, despite having some of the tougher gun laws than many other states, such as its mandatory training courses, waiting periods when buying guns and Firearm Owner Identification cards issued by the police department, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. However, such preventative measures are easily foiled when neighboring counties and states have different regulations.

“It’s important to remember here that Chicago is very close to two states that have relatively weak gun laws: Wisconsin and Indiana,” and that “state lines don’t stop guns,” according to Danielle Kurtzleben on NPR. This creates a situation where an individual who might not be able to legally buy a gun in their town can drive to a nearby county or state, purchase a gun and bring it back illegally without any hassle.

Some states have such lax gun control regulation that it’s no wonder why gun violence is so rampant. In Wisconsin, it’s legal for people bluntly labeled as career criminals to have a concealed carry permit, as allowed by 2011 Senate Bill 93, Act 35. A career criminal is defined as an individual who is found guilty of three or more misdemeanors and/or one felony within five years. Allowing these criminals to legally carry guns into public places has led to “stupid disputes that would have been fist fights are now shootings; Facebook fights are now shootings. Road rages are now shootings,” said Wisconsin Police Chief Ed Flynn at a June 26 town hall meeting.

Another topic that also gets brought up often in gun control talks is mental health. Federal regulations currently prohibit the sale of guns to individuals who have been committed to a mental institution, deemed by a lawful authority to be a danger to themselves or others or deemed as a “mental defective,” according to the Firearm Possession Prohibition Federal Law. These are all measures that deal with one’s mental health before buying a firearm; however, this is not enough. There is little to no legislation that works with checking if one’s mental health is sound after the transaction.

In the aftermath of many mass shooting, discussions of the shooter’s mental health arise, more times than not the general consensus is that they were not mentally stable ­— the recent Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock is now said to have a mental defect because of his criminal father affecting his life as a child — which can only mean that current legislation in place to bar those who are mentally unstable is not as effective as it should be; or the individual was of sound mental health when buying the firearms and has become mentally ill after the fact.

Therefore, more progressive legislation needs to be passed that attempts to keep periodic checks of the mental health of assault weapons owners, in the form of mental health examinations. Of course, because of the nature of mental illness, this cannot prevent all instances of mass shootings attributed to mental instability, however it is important to at least make an effort to prevent these tragic situations before they occur.

The United States needs to take a more aggressive stance on gun control in the form of creating more strict and unified regulations between states and creating more effective mental health initiatives to attempt to prevent these instances of gun violence before they occur.

Mackenzie Meadows

Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.

Stephen Paddock killed 58 people and injured over 500, which marked Oct. 1 as the deadliest U.S. shooting in modern history in Las Vegas. Before Paddock murdered many, another shooter killed 49 people on June 12, 2016 at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, both according to the Gun Violence Archive’s top mass shootings. Before that, a different shooter murdered 32 people at a University in Blacksburg, Virginia, according to fast facts on CNN.com. These men have more than just being murderers in common; they also all have shared a title at one point or another as the shooter in America’s worst mass shooting.

These three men, as well as others, chose to murder mass amounts of people, and yes, with guns. These men bought the gun, bought ammo for the gun and used the gun to kill people. It was these men who pulled the trigger, who thought of a plan to pull the trigger and no gun law would have changed that.

Since the latest shooting in Las Vegas, the government has been debating gun control all over again, according to an Oct. 8 MSNBC article. However, like many Americans, it seems government officials cannot agree either.

“There are gun limits already on gun ownership, but frankly, let’s go out and enforce those laws. Don’t try to put new laws in place that don’t fix these problems. It’ll only make it harder for law-abiding citizens to own a gun,” said Steve Scalise, Louisiana State Representative in an Oct. 8 MSNBC interview.

Many heroes have come forward after the Las Vegas shooting and shared their stories on running back into the crowds to help people to safety while Paddock was firing shots into the crowd. Dana Rushing and her son Owen Searcy were among the rescuers. The two heroes gave medical help near the shooting and helped bring people to the hospital, according to an Oct. 4 Independent Co. article.

“It was just a tragedy; there are so many people trying to politicize it,” Rushing said. “But it was just a man who planned to mass destruction.” Her son also agreed, “All the gun control in the world isn’t going to stop those kinds of people getting hold of weapons – no matter what type of weapons they are – to do this type of destruction,” said Searcy.

No matter how many new laws are put into place, bad people will still get their hands on guns. Adding more regulations and more bans won’t change anything. Gun safety is very important and so is education about guns. However, taking Americans’ right to own a firearm away will not solve the crisis at hand; it will only make people more angry.