Editorial, Opinion

EDIT: On Gun Control

There appears to be progress on the gun control front. Amidst increasing amounts of mass shootings across the nation, Congress is tiptoeing around the Second Amendment, which guarantees American individuals the right to bear arms. Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama finally issued a bill of 23 executive orders that aim to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. “Reducing violent crime,” he said, “is a top priority of my administration.”

His plan of action? Obama first called for Congress to require a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun. Secondly, he asked that Congress restore a ban on military-style assault weapons, as well as a 10-round bullet limit for magazines. (Such weapons, of course, are typically what allow for large-scale massacres, whereas the additional seconds that would be needed for bullet replenishment are vital.)

These measures, of course, will not be easy to implement. In most instances, background checks are already required of individuals wishing to purchase firearms, and despite this, oversight errors and mass shootings, thusly, persist. Forty percent of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check.

Moreover, acquiring a gun illegally may not be as hard as we like to imagine. When people want something, they will get it. Consider marijuana. And consider how prior to last December, Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza was not a felon. He was autistic and unhappy, and used his mother’s guns to kill her and twenty-six innocent others.

Bad people will still get the gun.

True, background checks, waiting periods and bans on large weapons will aid the problem. But why are these measures being taken so late? Obama’s bill is hardly revolutionary. Gun control has been an issue for years — it took the death of 20 kindergartners for the federal government to take steps of action.

The bill does address another looming Sandy Hook question: what do we do with our nation’s sick? Obama aims to make sure that students and young adults get treatment for mental health issues. It should be noted that our current mental health system may be failing in this respect — often times, a county jail is purportedly a disturbed individual’s only mental asylum, and jail time can only be achieved by committing a crime. This aspect of the bill is crucial — were Lanza provided with appropriate care, he may not have acted as he did.

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