Gun Control: A National Debate
These past few weeks have been a time of great devastation, tragedy, and loss. Throughout the year there have been sixteen public shootings, with the latest, at Sandy Hook Elementary, claiming the lives of 28 people, most of them children. More than 80 people died in the United States this year from these types of indiscriminate shooting rampages, and countless more were injured or in some way scarred for life. Despite this, many still argue that the gun control laws in place are not to blame, stating that even if they were in some way altered, it would not stop potential shooters from getting their hands on firearms. Following the horrible events that have transpired just these past few weeks, the inescapable truth is that something must be done.
A complete ban of firearms, however, would obviously be an overly drastic move, as a lot of people use them simply for their own protection. This approach, much like the weapons themselves, can backfire. While some of the shootings this year have been carried out with stolen weapons, others have been with consensually borrowed weapons, or even with guns legally purchased. In the two latter cases, it is hard to figure out who is exactly to blame, but the growing consensus among many is that something must be done – something legal – to alleviate the issue. Mr. Calcaterra, assistant teacher at Mission Bay High School comments: “As far as gun control goes, there are just way too many factors to have a final solution at this juncture.”
It is important to look back on the details of shootings in the past, before pondering what type of action should be taken. The two most devastating massacres of recent months by far, the Aurora Theater and Sandy Hook shooting, taking place in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut respectively, were carried out with far more than just your standard handgun. The Aurora Theater gunman, James Holmes, was able to walk into the theater wearing a bulletproof vest, a semi-automatic M16 army rifle, a pump-action 12-gauge shotgun, and a .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol, possibly two. It is absurd for a civilian, someone with no military or law enforcement service history of any kind, to be able to get his hands on this equipment. He claimed the lives of twelve people and injured over 50 more. In Connecticut, Adam Lanza had access to three weapons, two handguns and a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle, all legally purchased by his mother. He then proceeded to go to Sandy Hook Elementary and gun down 26 people, 20 of which were students aged six to seven years old, the other six teachers and adults, all of this after shooting his own mother, and subsequently taking his own life.
Of the sixteen shootings that transpired this year, nine were carried out with handguns, while the others involved automatic and semi-automatic weapons of some kind. It would be impossible to ask for a complete ban of firearms among civilians, but would it be too much to ask to make it a bit harder for ordinary citizens to get their hands on equipment one would normally only see in the hands of the army or police units? A few months ago, following the Aurora shooting, one of the constant themes of news sources and media outlets was, with few exceptions, that then was not the time to start discussing the gun control laws. Now, a few months later and after even more public massacres, there has finally been some discussion about the issue. Finally, the president himself has started pushing for a change in the gun control laws. “I believe that with further education,” says Mr. Calcaterra, “and a better understanding of today’s society, the solution may not be that far off.” But now, after everything that has happened, after all this pain, and all these lives lost, one cannot help but ask: Is it maybe a bit too late?