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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Texas & Colorado Shootings: their effect on the public and gun control

Thomas Caffall, James Holmes and Jared Lee Loughner. In the past few months, the U.S. has experienced a number of public shootings—most prominently, the Texas A&M University and Colorado shootings.

Instigated by Caffall, the Texas A&M shootings resulted in three dead and four injured. The Colorado shootings, involving James Holmes, saw 12 dead and 58 others wounded.

While certainly tragic, these shootings have not only rocked our foundations but also have inspired widespread fear and intimidation throughout the nation. What has instigated such permeating acts of violence? Is this the result of loose gun control, poor law enforcement and government inaction, or does this represent a deeper instability of the American people?

While stricter regulations have the potential to somewhat infringe upon citizens’ liberties, these shootings represent a deeper misconception, in part, of the general populace.

When evaluating both of these shootings, we see there are a number of elements that are similar. In both cases, the shooters were college age students studying at universities. A major point in both of these shootings is that both of these students were dissatisfied with their lives.

Holmes had recently fallen out of favor from university professors and had failed a key oral exam. The Texas A&M shootings occurred while police officers were attempting to serve an eviction notice. Thus, ignoring the possibility of mental instability, both of these shooters had a prominent motive.

Furthermore, many of us have failed to see that, instead of facing their problems, these men committed mass slayings. Instead of confronting their problems, they chose to blame the government and the public.
I believe that this demonstrates an important fact: people expect too much from their government and their society. Instead of taking responsibility and facing their problems, these citizens have been taught to rely solely on others.

This represents a fundamental flaw in our society: an emphasis on dependence instead of self-reliance and responsibility. While this may stem from a number of sources—school, community, relationships—if we are to prevent such occurrences in the future, we must first instill fundamental moral values.

However, these shootings also prompt the argument for stricter gun control. I acknowledge that gun control is a sensitive issue, and many believe that it is an established right of the people.

While I do not wish to debate or conduct an extensive review of the Second Amendment, I do want to point out that the public supersedes the individual. Thus, to protect the general public, we must enact stricter gun control.

Both of the individuals involved in the Texas and Colorado shootings were partly able to vent their anger on the public due to their ease in procuring guns, armor and explosives.

If we want to truly attempt to guarantee public safety, we must limit the flow of such weapons into the general public. Military-grade firearms and weapons are not needed for sport, hunting, personal enjoyment or protection. These firearms only serve as a medium to kill small children, teens and adults quickly and effectively.

In the context of the eight or more shootings that have happened recently, the public has come to find ease in a sickening mixture of fear and a false illusion of safety. Though Congress and government officials may continue to cower behind the power of the National Rifle Association, and people will continue to seek rights through the Second Amendment, it is time that the general populace accepts the true realities of widespread gun availability, unless they want another repetition of the aforementioned acts of violence.

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  • R

    RyanSep 1, 2012 at 1:09 am

    More strict gun control is not a solution.

    Violent crime is driven by population, population density, and economic or social distress. If access to firearms were a driver of violent crime, then Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, Utah, and the Dakotas would have considerably higher rates of both murder, and violent crime. Gun ownership in each of these states is considerably above the national average (FBI estimates 78-80 million gun owners in the US, out of approximately 312 million citizens).

    Further, there are no examples of places where gun control, including all out bans, have effectively curtailed violent crime. The UK is a popular point of comparison, but there are multiple problems with this. For starters, it is an apples to oranges comparison. The US has a far larger number of large cities, and a substantially greater number of economically depressed areas. To compare the US to the UK is akin to comparing London to Boise. Second, crime in the UK has skyrocketed since their gun ban (instituted in 1997). While the murder rate remains low, consider that London had a murder rate of 1.9 in 1996, the year before the gun ban. This number has been matched twice since then, but murder is generally higher since the ban. As for the broader category of violent crime? Where London used to hover around 520 per 100,000 before the gun ban, that figure has ballooned to over 950 per 100,000 since the ban. Still, they try to tackle violence through regulation. In 2006, they tightened up so much that pellet guns and Airsoft guns are restricted. Not surprisingly, things continue to deteriorate.

    How about US examples? How are Illinois gun laws working out? While the popular excuse is that they are suffering because guns are being bought from other states, this makes no sense. Oregon’s murder rate hovers in the low 2.X range, and we have an estimated 38% gun ownership rate. If other states’ laws were to blame for Chicago’s problem, wouldn’t those states be even worse off?

    New Jersey? Very tight gun laws. Maryland? DC? Same. How’s that working out?

    The sad fact is that we try to fix the problem by attacking the tool used, rather than the reason that the criminal pursued violent action.

    Remember when we tried to attack the meth epidemic by regulating ephedrine? All that accomplished was making it harder to get cough syrup than it is to get meth.

    Speaking of epidemics, “assault weapons” are not one. Rifles of all types are lumped together in FBI statistics, and are used in an average of about 2.5% of homicides. “Assault rifles” are used to kill less than 300 people each year, compared to:

    800 each year killed with bare hands
    30,000+ suicides
    500,000+ deaths from heart disease

    We have already had a national “assault weapons ban”, from ’94 to ’04. What has gone unnoticed in the clamor for another one is that the last one didn’t accomplish anything. “Assault weapons” are so rarely used, it had virtually no impact, except to the people who own them, and use them for legal activities. Where it is popular to say that “people don’t need them for ____!”, or that “they exist only to kill!”, the fact is that there are over 4 million of them owned by citizens in the US, of which fewer than 300 are used to kill people.

    A handful of incidents do not equate to an epidemic.

    My message here boils down to two statements:

    1. Stop blaming guns.
    2. If you REALLY want to impact violent crime, the path is through economic reform.

  • S

    self-defenseAug 31, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    I find it comical that you speak so clearly for self reliance and not depending on the government or others, yet that is exactly what you turn around and do when it comes to your own personal safety. Why not instead of trying to target guns, try educating yourself on gun laws and proper training, then try carrying one and understanding the great responsibility that comes with being a legally armed citizen. If more people took more responsibility for their own safety, perhaps there would be fewer victims and different endings on the reports that the police write after all the screaming stops.

  • S

    Spencer60Aug 31, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    So close, but yet so far… When I saw the sentence:

    “This represents a fundamental flaw in our society: an emphasis on dependence instead of self-reliance and responsibility.”

    I really thought the author might have something sensible to say.

    But then the last two paragraphs come up and contradict everything that came before them.

    Limiting firearms is not the answer.

    You had the answer in front of you since you wrote the sentence above.

    We are all responsible for our own safety and security, and we can only effectively resist armed criminals if we also have arms.

    Limiting the arms and places those arms can be used does nothing to enhance public safety.

    In fact, it does exactly the opposite. Look at where all of these mass-killing occur.

    Not where law abiding citizens can legally carry a firearm, but in so called ‘gun free’ areas.

    By stripping a citizen of the very tools needed for self-reliance, the flawed and dangerous gun free zone concept has done nothing but invite tragedy since it’s inception.

    You were almost there this time.. try again.

  • S

    Smart BoiAug 31, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Start by disarming the cops and military of full auto and semi auto weapons. If it is effective then we will consider disarming the citizens, the true owners of the country.