Latest mass shooting sparks discussion on prevention

In the wake of the Aurora, Colo., theater shooting and a shooting at a Milwaukee Sikh Temple, another gunman has damaged and taken the lives of several people.

This time, the backdrop was a hair and nail salon in Wisconsin, and the shooter a former Marine, doggedly pursuing his estranged wife after a restraining order had been issued against him.

Yet, with dozens both dead and injured from these attacks, the question on Americans’ minds is arguably the same.

How can we prevent these mass killings?

Some attribute certain shootings to post traumatic stress disorder from former military days; for other shootings, some blame peer bullying and abuse. But such murderous acts suggest larger issues in American culture.

One of these is how strict gun vendors should be when selling a gun to a customer. Examination of state-by-state laws reveals how multifaceted this issue really is.

In North Carolina, for example, the process of acquiring a gun is relatively simple. When selling guns to customers there is a required background check, a $5 fee and an interview. After that, one can legally own a gun and, with the exception of Durham County, not have to register it. Additionally, there are no regulations against openly carrying a firearm.

Weapons laws vary wildly from state to state, enough to make some cry for national regulation to be instated for gun control. But President Obama is not as firmly against bearing arms as some of his fellow Democrats.

“I, like most Americans, believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms,” Obama said in a July speech. “And we recognize the traditions of gun ownership that passed on from generation to generation — that hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage.”

He later went on to state that most gun owners would agree that assault weapons are an exception to that rule. The president has pushed for reinstatement of a ban on firearms of a certain caliber.

Even so, the National Rifle Association is on the attack against President Obama over this issue.

“At his core, he is outright hostile to the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” said Andrew Arulanandam, spokesman for the NRA, in a press release.

With the effects of the Columbine shootings still haunting the nation after over a decade, and the more recent shootings affecting us currently, it is a common assessment that something needs to be done to end this pattern of violence. But, so far, nothing concrete has been decided.

Most likely, part of the reason for the legislature’s standstill may be the varying circumstances surrounding these attacks. From bullying to mental instability to domestic violence, these crimes never stem from a single, unified cause. This makes identifying the problem, and thus solving the problem, exceedingly difficult.

But according to first-year student Ian St. Amour, the crimes of a few should not make things harder for the masses.

When asked if people who sold weapons should be held accountable for crimes committed with them, he simply replied, “No.” When further questioned about his views on current gun laws he said, “I’d say that they’re fine as they are.”

With so many different solutions being presented, it is difficult to settle on a single one to solve such a complex issue. Should there be more intricate background and mental health checks of potential gun owners? Should assault rifles be kept out of the hands of citizens? And should we, as a nation, decide the gun laws for our states?

Meanwhile, these horrific acts continue. In 2007, Seung-Hui Cho claimed the lives of 32 people during his assault on Virginia Tech; this year, Michael Page’s racially charged attack on the Sikh temple killed six and injured four. Other incidents — ­like the shooting at Texas A&M University just over two months ago — keep the American populace in a state of perpetual unrest.

How much more blood must be shed at the hands of citizens with firearms before this issue is finally resolved?

The nation waits with bated breath for the answer.