Gun Violence

This post is very different from anything I’ve posted on this blog. I’m horrified by what I am seeing in the news today and felt I had to say something.

Today America was alerted to another awful mass shooting. This time it was in Roseburg, Oregon at Umpqua Community College. Yet again, many people died (10 as of this writing) and many (7) were injured. Yet again, the shooter is dead. Yet again, the President has had to make a sad statement to the press.

News of domestic mass shootings has become so common it’s not surprising. As President Obama pointed out, everything in these situations has become routine. The news channels will show the President’s speech, they’ll show that day’s live footage of the crime scene, they’ll interview some family members of past and current victims, and they’ll try to understand what mental illness causes a person to commit such atrocious acts. There will be candlelight vigils and lots of comments of sending prayers and good wishes. There will be some arguments. And in the end, inevitably it seems, no real change will be made. In a few weeks or months, we’ll roll through this news cycle again.

The President is understandably frustrated. I can’t understand the people who get news like this and still manage to stand up and argue against strict gun regulations. I can’t understand the people who are unable to recognize the heartache in the faces of the families and friends of victims on their screens. I can’t understand why, if you are seeing news like this, you would think it makes sense to make it easier for people to get guns.

Because that’s the real issue. Yes, mental health is an issue that needs to be more deeply understood and more carefully addressed. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the only factor in this equation. A person with a mental illness can’t shoot up a building if they have no gun. This isn’t a question of having the right to a gun for self-protection. The shooter in Oregon today had 3 pistols and a rifle. No ordinary citizen needs access to that kind of hardware for self-defense.

I’m so angry when I hear arguments based on the Constitution. The first words of the US Constitution seek “domestic tranquility” and provision of a “common defense”. Why are we willing to put those profound ideals aside in favor of an arbitrary individual right?Regardless, even if the only words in the Constitution were “Every citizen shall own a gun”, does that mean we should stick to it? At every step in its history, America has updated its laws as times have changed. Vehicle laws, property laws, voting laws – they have all been updated to reflect the times we live in. Why can’t gun laws be updated too?

I sincerely ask the people who support less regulation – aren’t you willing to give up this right (or at least let it be more regulated) if it means saving lives? Aren’t you willing to at least try on the off-chance that it could save the life of at least one child? In this day and age you can’t even say that you don’t know the effects of the lack of policy. You see the victims on your screens all the time.

People aren’t necessarily looking for a ban on gun ownership – just some basic regulations. Don’t you want someone who owns a gun to have passed a background check? Don’t you want them to have a license? If you want to own a gun, what’s the harm in going through this besides it being a slight nuisance? If someone can’t pass a background check, why are we listening to their opinions on gun laws?

It’s just the start of election season. As it goes on, I urge everyone to think about gun regulation policy as they do the economy and foreign policy and social freedoms and health care – it’s a very real issue, with very, very real consequences.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I welcome a positive discussion in the comments below.