The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Recent gun violence should spark national policy debate

On Friday morning, I logged onto my computer, pulled up the Internet and was shocked to see an article on Yahoo that read, “Shooting at Empire State Building.”

How terrifying is it that we live in a time in which it’s almost trivial to hear about another rampage shooting – only the locations change. After I watched Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s press conference, I called my sister to talk about the shooting and the phenomenon it represents, and we both wondered: how long before the location is our city, our place of employment, our friends and family?

“Why is our society so impotent at curbing gun violence?” – I ranted on Facebook, much, I’m sure, to the chagrin of my conservative compatriots. Although, this isn’t as much an ideological question as it is a pragmatic one: simply, we need to stop people from killing each other. Not so simply, how do we do it?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 30,000 Americans die every year due to gun-related injuries. Guns kill people.

Yet, as per the Second Amendment of the US Constitution – the one to which right-wingers so desperately cling – “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 means that our government cannot holistically ban firearms, but it can regulate the conditions under which guns are owned.

Enter “gun control,” that loaded term that serves so easily as a cleavage between right and left. After a major gun-related tragedy, such as high-profile murders and rampage killings (which were both more rare in the days of President Kennedy and Charles Whitman, but now are becoming almost commonplace in the days of Trayvon Martin and James Holmes), rhetoric around these terms boils up again, begging the hind-sighted question: are we doing enough? As long as these tragedies continue to occur, obviously we’re not.

The Brady Act – named after James Brady, whom John Hinckley, Jr. shot in 1981 during an assassination attempt against President Ronald Reagan – lists 10 prohibitions under which a firearm cannot be purchased. It once required background checks to be performed on purchasers. However, the Supreme Court case, Printz v. U.S. – which was funded by the National Rifle Association (NRA) – overturned this provision as unconstitutional, as per the Tenth Amendment. The law itself was upheld, and most state and local law officials still perform the background checks, as it is their legal prerogative.

However, there is no longer a mandated waiting period prior to actually buying a gun, and background checks are not legally required at the federal level. Leniency is lethal. Making it easier to obtain a firearm only makes it easier for acts of gun violence to occur. These devices, which perform often illegal acts, are sold legally.

I’m not saying we should criminalize all gun ownership — that would be undemocratic. I actually agree with the Second Amendment, which is why I support strong regulation of gun ownership.

Guns are made to inflict harm. Therefore, it is the responsibility of society to ensure guns don’t reside in the wrong hands. The way this insurance is achieved is through strong, serious regulation and control of ownership and, of course, serious and legitimate enforcement of gun laws. Without strict gun control, we can count on gun violence to happen again and again. Let’s be smart. Let’s be safe. Let us have real gun control.

Welch is a sophomore majoring in accounting. 

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