By: Jonathan S. Hogue ~Opinions & Editorials Editor~
After the Oregon shooting, I am left with little hope that gun violence will end in the near future. Politicians will not address the issue, television outlets divert much of the debate to mental health and Americans remain passive amidst social unrest. The problem is not just with gun laws, outside lobbying groups or infringement of personal liberties. America’s gun issue stems from an improper view of firearms.
The Constitution gives Americans the right to bear arms. Most people will agree with that. Few people in government want to take away every American’s firearm and burn them in a pile while dancing on top of the Constitution. Let’s be realistic about the issue. America can and should be a nation where individuals can purchase a firearm if they choose to, but ownership should come with proper training.
Think about when you turned 16 and decided you wanted to get your driver’s license. In most states, new drivers are required to log training hours, take a written test, attend a driver’s education class, be tested by a state official to obtain the license and have credentials reviewed yearly or biannually to make sure that your skills are competent. Now think about how gun ownership is viewed. A disorganized patchwork of laws complicates the gun-buying process. Some states do not require background checks, there is no training prior to purchasing a firearm and owners are not asked to review their skills yearly or biannually to ensure that they can properly discharge their firearm.
I understand that individuals who wish to commit mass shootings will not follow every aspect of the law when obtaining a firearm, but we need to look at the way that we allow guns to be viewed in society. Thousands of Americans are killed each year by gun violence. America’s romanticizing of guns tells citizens that gun violence is a necessary evil no one can control. It is every American’s right to own a gun, little should be in the way of obtaining a firearm. To quote Jeb Bush, “Stuff happens.”
It is sad that our society allows guns to be viewed in this light. Politicians act cowardly because their constituents are passive citizens. America is a nation that worries more about terrorism in Syria than the horrific shootings that take place in major cities each weekend. People worry about Iran launching a nuclear weapon and ignore the fact that more than 15 mass shootings have taken place in 2015 alone.
Wake up, America!
Difficult discussions must be undertaken regarding guns in this country. Yes, mental illness is a motivating factor in mass shootings, but what about the killings that do not receive media attention? Does every American have a latent mental illness that we have to constantly fear, or is our warped perception of guns to blame for this violence? Americans need to address the issue of weak, ineffective gun laws. I encourage people to force Congress to act on common sense solutions: universal background checks, the reauthorization of the Brady Bill that outlawed semiautomatic weapons, mandatory firearm training and laws that ensure high capacity magazines are only sold to the Department of Defense.
These laws will not end gun violence, but they are necessary if America wants to change the perception citizens have about firearms. It is time that people stop blaming just the shooter. All of society has a hand in preventing and disarming senseless gun violence. If someone disagrees with me, please speak up. This debate is necessary and has the ability to change the way our nation discusses difficult topics. If you want to ignore the debate, go right ahead. When the next shooting takes place, hopefully you will speak up.