Pulling the Trigger on Gun Control


By: Megan Kee

Email: mkee@terpmail.umd.edu

Copy edited by: Maggie McPherson

Research Edited by: Jared Bernhardt

The presidential debates have just concluded, and the presidential election are right around the corner. Among the topics discussed were the high profile shootings of minorities, and gun control. In both politics and the daily lives of Americans, people often debate whether or not stricter gun control laws should be implemented. Each new occurrence of a mass shooting or the murder of a widely admired person, such as Christina Grimmie, spark new controversies on gun control.

Gun control laws of the United States regulate the sale, possession, and use, of firearms  and ammunition. These regulations have been a hotly debated topic for decades. They vary considerably depending on the state however. For example, each state has its own laws regarding the right-to-carry. Other gun control laws restrict the magazine capacity, or regulate whether or not you need a permit to purchase handguns or long guns.

There have been many cases where people, both legally and illegally, obtain firearms only to go on a shooting spree, killing dozens. James Holmes, 24, opened fire at a Century movie theater, killing 12, and injuring 70, at the 2012 Aurora shooting. Adam Lanza, 20, opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, killing 27, including his mother, and injuring 2. Christina Grimmie, 22, was shot by 27-year-old Kevin James Loibl while signing autographs following her performance, Before You Exit, in Orlando June of 2016.

So Why Not Implement Stricter Gun Control?

If someone is dead-set on acquiring guns for malicious intent, they will do it either legally or illegally. Instead of protecting lives, imposing stricter gun control laws will only serve to infringe upon the United States’ citizens’ Second Amendment. People have a right to bear arms; taking away guns won’t solve anything, but will instead violate the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

People have noted that a good portion of those committing the mass shootings have psychological issues. Adam Lanza, perpetrator of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, had been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. James Holmes, perpetrator of the Aurora shooting, was found to have been, “depressed and obsessed with murder since about the age of 14”. He had also been, “seeing a psychiatrist specializing in schizophrenia.”. According to the National Institutes of Health, there have been findings suggesting that, “up to 60% of perpetrators of mass shootings in the United States since 1970 displayed symptoms including acute paranoia, delusions, and depression before committing their crimes.”.

Instead of focusing on treating a symptom of the problem with stricter gun control, the focus should be on the root of the problem, by ensuring that the mentally ill get proper care and treatment.

Aren’t There Some Benefits Though?

Stricter laws will increase public safety in some way and will reduce the number of casualties from gun related deaths. Currently, there are no laws forbidding the sale of firearms to people on a watch list, or a no-fly list. If their rights are curtailed, then the chances of people dying from gun-related murder, whether it be mass shootings, domestic violence, or anything else, can potentially decrease.

In cases such as domestic abuse, implementing a waiting period for gun purchases can save the lives of the abused. The waiting period, sometimes ten days, will allow the abuser to cool off and decide against making rash decisions. It also decreases the chances that a depressed individual makes an impulsive decision to commit suicide.

In other cases, homeowners buy guns to store in their houses for self-defense. On March 24, 2016, “a homeowner shot an intruder who tried to break into her Indianapolis home Thursday afternoon.” Had the homeowner not owned a gun, it is possible that both her and her baby could have been shot to death.

The Bottom Line

We need to administer gun control to a certain degree. With the right gun control laws, we should be able to protect citizens while still respecting their rights. Laws forbidding people on watch lists, or no-fly lists, from buying guns add another level of safety withoutt stripping guns from citizens completely. However, we should also not forget to investigate the studies proclaiming that the majority of mass shootings are committed by people with mental illnesses. We should refrain from implementing excessive laws based on mental illness cases. If we are to make the country a safer place, we must find the perfect balance between regulation and freedom.