In the wake of the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, in which a gunman opened fire in a crowded movie theater, we as citizens would be derelict in our duty to society if we did not attempt to learn from this atrocity and take steps to ensure it never happens again, or we may end up living in a society where we can’t attend the most routine of public events without being subject to airport-style, full-body scans. We must confront the issue of gun control.
President Barack Obama and Candidate Mitt Romney have each offered condolences to the victims, but the fact that they have neglected to mention their plans for gun control laws is quite disconcerting, albeit politically driven.
They obviously don’t want to disenfranchise any voters during an election year, but their silence gives the impression that the status quo is acceptable. With recent history as the judge, it becomes clear that the regulations we have in place are simply not enough to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of sociopathic individuals. Statistics obtained from the FBI website show that while one-on-one gun violence has dropped a staggering 40 percent since 1980, the United States still experienced over 14,000 non-negligent homicides in 2010. According to the FBI, 66 percent of those murders were perpetrated with a firearm.
Even as single-victim gun violence is relatively low, shootings involving 4 or more victims have slowly yet consistently risen over the past 30 years, with an average of 167 incidents per year. One of the most striking similarities in cases of mass murder, especially over the past ten years, is the fact that so many of the people responsible for these horrifying acts were able to obtain their means of destruction easily and legally.
The shootings in Aurora, the University of Texas clock tower incident, the Tucson rampage and the Virginia Tech massacre are just a few of the more well-known out of countless examples of mass murders committed with a legally-owned firearm. These tragedies in and of themselves should provide enough incentive for this country to adopt stricter gun laws.
The gun culture in this country is so strong that we sometimes lose sight of the reality that there is not a single logical reason why a citizen should own a high caliber, semi-automatic rifle. One can still hunt and defend their home with something a bit more quaint than a military-style assault weapon. In addition, the process of purchasing a gun needs to become more rigorous than a simple background check. Potential customers could be required to take a gun-safety class or perhaps pass a psychiatric evaluation before purchasing the means to murder and maim their fellow man.
The bottom line is that both people and guns have changed quite a bit since 1776. When the founding fathers wrote of the right to bear arms, they were thinking of muskets, not AK-47s.
Matt Story is a kinesiology senior and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.