Editor outlines Obama’s gun control proposals
Published: Monday, January 28, 2013
Updated: Monday, January 28, 2013 11:01
It is time to have a civil, serious discussion about gun control.
But before I go any further, I want to address an issue I hear daily from many people. People are misinformed about President Obama’s intentions on gun control. Obama, in a presidential news conference on January 14, said his administration has not infringed on gun rights and would continue to uphold the rights of responsible gun owners, “people who have a gun for protection, for hunting, for sportsmanship.” Obama went on to say: “The issue is not whether or not we believe in the Second Amendment, the issue is - are there some sensible steps that we can take to make sure that somebody like the individual in Newton can’t walk into a school and gun down a bunch of children in a shockingly rapid fashion? And surely we can do something about that.”
Probably one of the silliest and most uneducated responses that I have seen multiple times on Facebook is, “Let them try to take my guns. I dare them.” This is not the same era as the Revolutionary War. To echo President Obama, this is no longer the military of “horses and bayonets.” If the government decided to take your guns, they have the military power to take your guns. A citizen is not going to be able to make a stand against the U.S. military forces. To say so just makes a person sound silly.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s step back, try to be rational, and take a look at a few things that are feasible and that many can agree on. I want to preface my opinions by reiterating, neither I nor President Obama are in favor of banning guns or taking anyone’s guns away, but are in favor of stricter gun laws.
Here are the four main components of President Obama’s plan – some logical steps to hopefully eliminate or decrease mass gun shootings:
• Require that everyone who wants to purchase a gun go through background checks (i.e. closing the gun show loophole);
• Ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity mags;
• Better train teachers and officials on how to respond to shootings at schools;
• Increase access to mental health services.
“We won’t be able to stop every violent act, but if there is even one thing that we can do to prevent any of these events, we have a deep obligation, all of us, to try,” President Obama said after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Although the outcomes of these steps will not be instant, or maybe not even fully achieve their purpose, if even one person’s or child’s life can be saved, society has a responsibility to act.
First, require that everyone who wants to purchase a gun go through background checks (i.e. closing the gun show loophole). I believe this is an easy way to better insure the people who own guns are responsible, law-abiding citizens. Many people resist any additional gun laws because they feel these additional laws will do nothing, but the alternative is to do nothing and allow unstable individuals to have guns. While researching gun laws, I was curious to see if statistics could prove stricter laws reduced firearm deaths. Gunpolicy.org allowed me to compare any given country to another. I compared Germany, who has extreme gun control laws, to the United States. I was shocked to see the difference gun laws make. In 2010, Germany’s annual firearm homicides were 0.2 for every 100,000. America’s annual firearm homicides overwhelmingly surpassed Germany’s at 3.59 for every 100,000.
Second, ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity mags. I am aware that some people get touchy on this one, and I acknowledge that I am not a gun fanatic or gun expert. An article, titled “Obama’s gun violence measures: Would they work?” by Allison Brennan, CNN, picks apart Obama’s plan and predicts what the outcome will be. According to Brennan, this law is basically a reinstatement of a 1994 anti-crime bill that expired in 2004. Because this bill did not last very long, studies were inconclusive on the law’s impact. Most people do not need high-capacity magazines, and so, based on the last two mass shootings in Colorado and Connecticut, I am in favor of reinstating this bill. In cases where individuals can demonstrate their usefulness, perhaps for hog control on ranches, I would suggest granting special agricultural exemptions to ranchers who qualify.
Third, better train teachers and officials on how to respond to shootings at schools. It is a sad truth that a person can no longer send their child to school without worrying they might be shot. Although it is still very unlikely, the necessity for increased security in schools is rapidly increasing. Some people say that we should give guns to all the teachers and faculty. This, to me, is absurd. Not only would we worry that someone might bring a gun to school, but now we are putting them everywhere, making them available to unstable people entering the school and unsuspecting children. All it would take is one person to carelessly set the gun down and you have given a gun to a child. According to Gunpolicy.org, in 2011 alone there were 851 unintentional gun deaths in the United States. How high would this rise if kids were exposed to multiple guns each day? So instead of arming our teachers, I believe we need to better train them how to handle a mass shooting incident.
Finally I believe that the biggest cause of mass shootings is lack of help for the mentally ill, and also a lack of responsibility on the part of the caretakers of the mentally ill. Both James Holmes, the Aurora shooter, and Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook shooter, were mentally ill. If Adam Lanza’s mother had the available tools necessary to intervene in her son’s life, and gotten him the help he needed as well as being required to keep her firearms locked up, it is possible that the shootings at Sandy Hook could have been prevented. I realize this is a hard issue to crack down on, but I believe it is a necessary one. In Obama’s gun control proposal, he wants to provide financing to expand mental health programs for young people. In addition to background checks I think it would be wise to have people deemed a safe gun owner by a psychologist.