It is often the case with tragedies such as the theater shooting in Colorado that occurred early Friday morning that people immediately feel the need to find someone or something to direct blame toward. I don’t feel this applies. It isn’t the fault of the law that allowed James Holmes to purchase the rifle. It isn’t because of violence on television or in video games. But just because there is no person or institution to point the finger at does not mean that we as a nation should not take the opportunity to look at this awful situation and re-evaluate some of the ideals we hold.
Guns need to be more heavily regulated in the United States, and the permeation of gun culture and violence certainly did not help the situation. For those who disagree, how many mass shootings have occurred in the U.S. in the past 20 years when compared to other nations? On average, there are 20 instances of gun violence that involve unarmed civilians who are injured or killed every year, according to the Brady Campaign. How many lives are filed under the “cost of freedom?” These are not isolated incidents when compared with other industrialized nations that allow citizens to own weapons. Even law enforcement in other countries exhibits more respect for weapons. German police fired only 85 bullets throughout the entirety of 2011. Obviously, law enforcement usage of firearms is a different animal than civilian usage altogether, but this nonetheless is a shockingly low number compared to the United States. It illustrates the mindset present in other nations that a mass amount and availability of guns do not lower violence or keep people safer — they do the opposite.
Loopholes that allow citizens to purchase guns privately or at gun shows are widely unmonitored. Seung-Hui Cho, the student who killed 33 people, including himself, on Viriginia Tech’s campus in 2007, had a record of mental illness but was still able to purchase the weapon. These are the types of laws that need to be re-evaluated within each state, and I’m not sure exactly how many shootings it’s going to take for that to be acknowledged.
Our view of guns as such a steadfast right in this country must be accompanied by a thorough understanding of their power and the damage they can cause.
It is simply baffling that Colorado legislators will not utilize such a horrible event to change the laws that allowed Holmes to purchase these types of guns and ammo via the Internet. Not only was he able to do so, but an assault weapons ban enacted by President Bill Clinton expired in 2004 and would have prevented him from being able to purchase the AR15 assault rifle he used as well as that amount of ammunition at once.
Unfortunately, the tragedy has garnered little support for a movement supporting more gun control. A public poll in 1990 found that 78 percent of Americans supported more regulation of firearms. In 2010, that percentage had dwindled to just 44 percent. This absolutely must be reassessed. I’m fairly certain that the ability for anyone to buy an assault rifle and 6,000 rounds of ammo to use at his disposal is not what our founding fathers had in mind when they drafted the Second Amendment.