Now that the government has decided to open its doors, for now at least, maybe Congress will turn to actual governing (sarcastic tone not intended). With Monday’s school shooting in Nevada, it seems that gun control will be a hot button issue once again. This time, Congress needs to actually do something about it.
A student at Sparks Middle School used a semiautomatic handgun to kill Michael Landsberry, a math teacher, and injure two students before taking his own life, according to a Monday Los Angeles Times article.
As a society, we have been desensitized to violence ever since our parents let us watch “The Powerpuff Girls.” However, it seems that nothing can stop us in our tracks quite like a school shooting — and for good reason. School should always be a safe space for children, and when people invade that safety, it sends a chill through my spine before I get completely frustrated.
A Monday CNN article notes there have been at least four instances of gun violence in schools since the Sandy Hook shooting on Dec. 14, 2012. There has never been a better time for politicians to start doing something about this.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll released Tuesday found Congress currently has a 12 percent approval rating post-government shutdown. At this rate, several Congressmen (and women!) and Senators will be collecting unemployment about a year from now. What better time to show the public that they can actually get things done than right after another gun violence tragedy?
We need comprehensive gun control reform from the local level to the national level and we need it now. According to an FBI report released Sept. 16, of the 12,711 murders reported by states in 2012 with sufficient data, 8,825 involved a gun. These statistics are devastating and the only way to truly improve society is to actually legislate.
Gun control is a highly debatable issue in this country and there are plenty of acceptable opinions. However, this being a column written by a quasi-political narcissist (sort of kidding) with a word limit, I am only going to focus on a few aspects that I think are the most important.
Some people would argue that any actual gun control legislation would be too late. The guns are already out there and criminals would find a way to get guns if they truly wanted to. While these are valid concerns, they don’t make legislation unnecessary. If criminals can’t buy the guns legally, they will have no choice but to buy them illegally. Even if there are just fewer guns available, the price of guns will go up — basic supply and demand. At this point, every little bit counts.
Now I’m not talking about all guns. Even in my ideal liberal, socialist, Obamapalooza daydreams, I don’t think all guns will be illegal to buy. That pesky second amendment doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, or at least that’s what Sarah Palin (or was it Tina Fey?) told me.
No, I think starting with an all-out ban on assault weapons would be good. There is no reason anyone needs a MAC-10 or an Uzi for self-protection, sport shooting or hunting. The same goes for the huge magazines that allow for 60 shots without reloading. If we start limiting gun capabilities, it will make tragedies a lot less severe and frequent.
Although banning assault weapons won’t stop all of the murders on Chicago’s South Side, even the smallest of steps can create change.
Background checks. Background checks. Background checks. Simply taking the time to ensure guns are in the right hands can make an enormous difference. I don’t think it’s too much trouble to ask someone to wait a few extra days so the government can make sure the person seems responsible.
Finally, we need to push gun lobbies out of the picture. Yes, gun owners have the right to be represented in Washington, but so does everyone else. According to a New York Times article from April 18, the National Rifle Association spent $500,000 on an advertising campaign against the most recent attempt at gun control legislation. I don’t know about you, but with the tuition bill I’m paying right now, I don’t think I have half a million dollars to spend on a media blitz advocating gun control. While there are gun control lobbies out there, none of them have the strength or base comparable to the NRA. Individually, we need to stand up and say something because no one else is going to do it for us.
School shootings should not exist. These tragedies belong in the past as reminders of where we have been and as motivators for future action. Maybe my position on control isn’t the best one out there, but at this point, any gun control is better than the political mess we have right now.
Sara Ryan is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences studying political science and math. She can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.