After I formulated a thesis for this paper, there were two shootings within twenty four hours of each other. Previously, I was supportive of the gun ban, but now I am sure that banning firearms would not solve the true issues at the root of this pandemic. The Dallas and Dayton shootings spurred a fresh wave of conversation amonsgt my friends and I, and it allowed my perception to shift, oddly enough, towards an opposing perspective. Previously, my opinion was that no one should own guns, nor carry them on campus. I now do not believe that would be a good solution, and that instead tougher regulation that allows responsible people to continue to acquire and carry the weapons they love while keeping disturbed individuals from getting to those same firearms as easily would be a much better short term solution.
While I was still supportive of a gun ban, my line of reasoning was that if American society could not responsibly care for its guns, than American society was not worthy of owning them. I inspired by toddlers, in the sense that when you have a misbehaving toddler who misuses a toy by smacking a fellow toddler with it, one doesn’t leave the toy with the rude child. The toy is completely removed from the situation. Neither the child who misuses it, nor the child who suffers the misuse are allowed to continue interacting with said toy because one toddler cannot act civilly. Something I realized, however, when debating with my friends, was that the removal of one of society’s ‘toys’ does not address the deep seated issues of which gun violence is only one effect. I believe gun violence is a symptom of some societal malaise, of which mental illness seems to be only one of the causes, that we have allowed to take root and spread. Taking everyone’s guns away will not solve whatever ails America, nor will it address issues that we believe are the root cause of this violence. Unfortunately, this means the problem is much more complex than most, and myself previously, believe, and thus requires a solution just as complex.
Though the media has focused on the negative outcomes of gun ownership, there are many, if not more positives. However, the positives are only present when gun owners are responsible adults who have received training and acquired a license that permits them to own and operate a gun safely. Unfortunately, gun laws as they are now are far too lax to support responsible gun ownership. This is supported by Dr. Branas, a gun violence researcher with the University of Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, who, despite little funding and support, has continued to recognize that when regulations are not sufficiently strong enough to promote safe and responsible gun ownership and use, the laws instead promote their unsafe and irresponsible misuse. Dr. Branas is not alone. A professor David Hemenway from Harvard Chan School of Public Health also states that weak gun laws are, though not a cause of gun violence, definitely facilitators for gun violence. A possible short term solution to gun violence isn’t to take guns away from everyone, especially from those who love and enjoy them responsibly, but instead to make it more difficult for those who would use guns for violence to have a harder time getting a hold of them.
By placing further restrictions and requirements into the process, it could prevent more legally purchased guns from falling into these irresponsible hands. More focus on person-to-person gun sales, online sales, and preventative measures against illegal buying and selling of guns would also greatly reduce, if not almost eliminate, gun violence. Examples of further obstacles, requirements, and restrictions would be a mandatory psychiatric evaluation by unbiased professionals, tags or trackers to reduce gun smuggling, and strict person-to-person sales registration and tracking, especially if the sales are online.
As for restrictions on campus, most campuses have instated sufficient regulations. Guns are not allowed to be openly carried, there are special lockers for their owners to keep them if firearms are not allowed in certain buildings or rooms, and carriers must have a license to carry. The only other restriction I can deem necessary is perhaps giving professors and school officials the power to request that all students who carry must register within the school system for permits to carry on campus. This would possibly deter unnecessary carrying on campus, as well as keep staff abreast as to who is carrying a weapon in their class.
Guns have always been a very important topic of conversation within politics and American society. Even though our nation has an amendment to its constitution preserving the right to bear arms, it is America’s comportment with these weapons that is threatening part of the American identity, as well as the existence of the Second Amendment. As gun violence worsens in America, I only wish that our leaders find working solutions that benefit all, before something truly devastating happens.