US guns laws too lenient?

By Margaret Johnson

Perhaps for our generation, the mass-murder school shooting at Columbine High School is the first to stick with us. I can distinctly remember watching the news before going off to school myself, watching the police officers give statements about the shooters, and seeing the victims’ family and friends devastated. The Columbine shooting seemed to mark the beginning of a long string of public shootings in the United States. Considering the reoccurrence of mass-shooting, the government and the public need to acknowledge the leniency of gun laws in contributing to these shootings.

Since the start of 2015, there have been 48 attacks on schools. Three college campuses have witnessed shootings resulting in casualties in October alone. The most recent school shootings occurred at Umpqua Community College on Oct. 1, Northern Arizona University on Oct. 9 and at Texas Southern University on Oct. 9.

At Northern Arizona University, the death of one student was a result of an altercation between two groups of students that turned deadly. The Umpqua Community College shooter was carrying five hand guns and a rifle when he took the life of 10 people. In the case of the Umpqua shooter, it is baffling that purchasing half a dozen guns did not raise any red flags, and even more baffling that purchasing such a quantity of guns is allowed by law.

At Texas Southern University, a shooter was taken into custody outside of a student residence after an argument between a few men led to the shooting of two of them—one of which was killed and the other critically wounded. Texas Southern University President John Rudley said, “Too many guns are accessible to students and to people in general in our community. I talk to students and they say guns can be bought for $1-300. Everyone can get one.”

While people who orchestrate mass shootings are typically mentally unstable, the accessibility of guns to citizens is conducive to the trend of mass shootings. No other weapon capable of mass killings is as easily accessible as the gun, begging the question of why such a powerful weapon is allowed into the hands of everyday people.

The shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon sparked a strong reaction from the White House as President Obama shot some words at the National Rifle Association: “I would ask America’s gun owners who are using those guns properly and safely to hunt, for sport, for protecting their families [. . .] if your views are being properly represented by the organization that suggests it’s speaking for you,” Obama said. He went on to call the mass shooting “a political choice” that has been made by America to allow these mass shootings to occur repeatedly.

Is the mere limitation of weaponry enough? The U.S. experiences mass shootings almost monthly. Students are scared for their lives when going to school. Citizens are killed in movie theaters and grocery stores. The government can no longer stand by and watch while publicly condemning such actions. By idly standing by and not taking action of their own, the government is ineffective in reducing and preventing mass shootings. How many more lives need to be taken in mass shootings for something to be done about it?

Gun owners believe that stricter laws restrict their rights. People also have a right to life—a right that is being directly and publicly threatened by those with guns. Pro-gun activists argue that guns do not kill people—people kill people. While that may be true, had gun laws been stricter, the use of guns by those who conduct mass shootings would not have been possible without easy access to guns.

Ezra Klein of the Washington Post puts it best: “If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing. If terrorists were detonating bombs in port after port, you can be sure Congress would be working to upgrade the nation’s security measures. If a plague was ripping through communities, public-health officials would be working feverishly to contain it.” The same should be true of mass shootings. Since people are using guns to kill citizens, the logical response to prevent such shootings is to eliminate the means of killing.