All my life, I’ve been told that we study history so that we learn from the mistakes of others, so that we can improve as a society, and we don’t suffer from the faults of previous generations again, and again, and again. There is one area in which we repeatedly fail to do this: as a nation, we share five percent of the world’s population, but 31 percent of mass shootings. There are a wide variety of reasons and theories behind why we hold such an outsized portion of these shootings, but one thing remains true; something needs to be done.
Mental illness comes up after every mass shooting. Was the suspect mentally ill? Should they have been able to acquire the weapon with the ease that they did? Laws vary from state to state as far as the hoops to jump through in order to purchase a firearm. Some require extensive background checks and a thorough combing of the purchaser-to-be’s past for violence, mental illness and other crimes. Other states are much more lenient.
One thing that puzzles me frequently is the fact that mental illness has shown to be a primary cause in multiple shootings, yet there has been such little effort to place more restrictions on the mentally ill purchasing weapons.
So many innocent lives have been lost to an unnecessary and outdated law; Pro-gun activists constantly reference the second amendment.
It says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
This was written in the late 1700s when it took an average of 20 seconds to reload a firearm that couldn’t be aimed accurately and would cost the average man two months’ pay. How is a law written in a completely different time period relevant to today’s firearms that can be fired at a rate of 700 rounds per minute? The times have changed and laws need to change with the times.
Amendments can be made to the constitution for a reason. The Framers knew that this country would change and the basic laws would also need to change.
Mass shootings are nothing new to America. Columbine, Sandy Hook, Charleston, Aurora, Moneta, Chattanooga and now Umpqua. The FBI defines a mass shooting as at least four people dying at gunpoint. In the first 274 days of 2015, there have been 45 mass shootings. By a different definition—four people being shot, but not necessarily killed—there have been 294 known mass shootings.
How is this acceptable? Politicians and news anchors and anyone else with a voice in the media will preach all day long about the importance of gun safety and preventing these things, but nothing changes. The shooting in Moneta, Virginia, where a cameraman and news anchor were shot on live TV, really brought things into perspective. No one is really safe. It’s events like these that need to spark a change.
Enough people have died. Enough families have been torn apart. There needs to be a change now. I don’t care about your personal opinion on guns, if you can see these stories without your stomach turning, there’s a problem.
Firearms are and will continue to be a hot topic in the news as long these mass shootings continue, and they will continue as long as unnecessary firearms are sold to unstable and hateful people. The only way to truly stop gun violence is to keep guns out of the hands of violent people. People can be violent and kill others without guns, but it’s much easier to prevent a mass stabbing than it is to stop someone with an automatic weapon shooting round after round with body armor and hundreds of extra rounds. Guns kill people, but only if someone pulls the trigger.
Brian Eckert is a first-year finance and economics double major.