Shootings necessitate greater gun control

Recently, America has struggled through too many instances of politically–motivated mass shootings, violence that would, if perpe­trated by a Muslim person, be defined as ter­rorism.

This summer, Charleston, S.C. mourned the losses of nine people, killed in a historically black church by a young white supremacist who had access to a gun. More recently, in Roseburg, Ore., students at Umpqua Community College began to rebuild their community after having lost nine of their own to an on–campus shoot­er. And now, in Colorado Springs, three people have been killed and 11 injured in a horrific turn of events at a local Planned Parenthood clinic.

The suspect of the recent attack, Robert Lewis Dear, a 57–year–old local man, alleged­ly opened fire in the facility, injuring 11 people and killing two civilians as well as a University of Colorado-Colorado Springs police officer. The tragedy has sparked dialogue on the role that violence and extremism play in American culture.

There has been talk of gun control, mental health awareness and, at least in left-leaning circles, the importance of access to safe abor­tions free of fear. But we’ve heard all of this be­fore, and little has been done from a structural standpoint to reduce the instances of gun vio­lence in this country.

It is important to recognize the complex role that politics plays in tragedies like these. Some argue that we ought not to politicize tragedies. That out of respect for the dead and their loved ones, we ought to stay silent. But given the dis­proportionate amount of gun violence in the United States, particularly in comparison to other Western nations, it is clear that politics are at the root of the problem. Without discus­sions of the deeper causes of what are clearly not freak instances, but rather patterns of vio­lence, these patterns are likely to prevent future acts of terror within this country.

After instances like Colorado Springs, dis­cussion of heightened gun control legislation inevitably takes place. But time and time again, the federal government has failed to act in any meaningful way towards implementing these crucial changes. On Saturday, Nov. 28 following the Colorado Springs shooting, Obama spoke out in favor of fixing this system. He stated, “If we truly care about this, if we’re going to of­fer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean con­science, then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wield­ing them.”

He’s right—the ease with which dangerous weapons can be accessed in this country is unbelievable. But this conversation happened after Charleston. And after Roseburg. And af­ter Sandy Hook. Only when this conversation brings substantive, legislative change will we see any reduction in the number of preventable instances of mass violence in this country.

Statistics have proven that gun control is ef­fective. A study conducted by Adam Lankford, an associate professor at the University of Al­abama Department of Criminal Justice, found that countries with higher levels of gun owner­ship also had more mass shootings per capita. Currently, according to the Small Arms Survey 2011, a Geneva–based research project that col­lects information on small arms, the U.S. ranks first internationally in gun ownership per cap­ita.

Other countries, like Australia, have strug­gled with gun violence historically and have managed to substantially reduce the instances of gun violence by strengthening gun control legislation. In 1996, after a man named Martin Bryant killed 35 people in a café in Port Arthur, Tasmania, with two semi–automatic weapons, then–Prime Minister Howard wrote, “The fun­damental problem was the ready availability of high–powered weapons, which enabled people to convert their murderous impulses into mass killing.” He enacted a set of reforms entitled the National Firearms Agreement, which required gun owners not only to register their guns, but also to demonstrate a genuine need beyond self defense for owning a weapon. As a result of the Agreement, gun violence plummeted. At this point, we recognize that there is a problem, and have seen that there is a solution that has de­creased rates of gun violence in countries com­parable to the U.S. Now is the time to fight for increased legislation.

The next thing that needs to be addressed is the toxic, divisive cultural and political frame­work that allows these events to take place and complicates the aftermath. Recent years have seen the rise of extreme right–leaning politics. Politics, like the recent attack on Planned Par­enthood, legitimize actors who perpetrate acts of terror and further characterize these crimi­nals as anomalies, as opposed to the direct re­sult of a culture that promotes hate, ignorance and intolerance. The first step is to stop vili­fying access to safe abortions in politics and government. It’s time that, as a culture, Amer­ica begins prioritizing the lives of pregnant women.

There is a long way to go before the United States comes close to solving its problem with gun violence and gun culture, and change isn’t going to take place overnight. But that doesn’t mean that in the meantime we should stop talking.

In the wake of Colorado Springs, we should continue to say the same things we said after Charleston, and Roseburg, and Sandy Hook and the countless other instances in which human life was unnecessarily lost. Let’s fight for the restrictions on gun ownership that have been proven effective time and time again. One day, the discussion will prompt the change required to overcome this deeply entrenched culture of violence.

—Madeleine Cavanagh ’18 is a student at Vas­sar College


  1. It seems the writer is unaware that:

    – Gun sales are at record highs
    – Gun crimes are decreasing steadily year over year

  2. NO it doesn’t.

    If anything, if necessitates every real American to obtain a firearm or two and training in their safe and effective use so we can defend ourselves against all the terrorist and traitors that have been allowed to infiltrate us the last several years.

  3. England 1898 1.0 murder rate no gun control
    England 2013 1.0 murder rate strict gun control

    Japan 1947 12 murders
    Japan 2013 12 murders

    Australia is even more hilarious in that they like their mother country England only report cases closed and at a 50% violent crime solved rate we see them under reporting rather badly as one reviews their coroner reports we see near 4 times the number of reported homicides as the govt reports in their crime data ….

    Of course when one reviews the reduction in killings by illegal use of a gun during 1996-2013 in Australia that is -4.64% but in the US during that same time frame we see over -42% reduction…

    What’s even funnier is we can identify that all the Australians reduction came from the ending of their outlaw biker gangs civil war ending and tinkerbell above is too stupid to prove otherwise

  4. Not just 11 killed at planned parenthood that day.
    More like thousands of innocents put to death at planned parenthood that day.

  5. Re: “dis­proportionate amount of gun violence in the United States”

    According to the CDC in 2013 there were about 11208 people murdered by firearms in the US which works out to about 31 people per day. These are the “word doctored” figures the news media and anti-gun folks like to publicize because people relate to the magnitude of those numbers and it sounds like a lot of people until you realize this is out of a population of 319 million Americans. In that context, it works out to about 1 person out of every 28,000 people being murdered by a firearm. Dwell on the magnitude of your individual significance next time you are in a stadium with 28,000 people. To me, 1 in 28,000 is an acceptable cost to help ensure the security of a free state and the right to own a firearm that has harmed no one. It is also estimated there are 70 million gun owners in the US which means on any given day 69,999,969 gun owners didn’t kill anyone yet because the news media magnifies these relatively isolated and infrequent events to the level of an epidemic, the anti-gun folks answer is to take the guns away from people who harmed no one. The number of homicides with a firearm will never be zero. So given the fact that deranged individuals and murderers are an intrinsic part of the human race and we currently live in a free society, what number would ever satisfy you to the point you would say “we don’t need any more restrictions on the private ownership of firearms”?

  6. Re: “Let’s fight for the restrictions on gun ownership that have been proven effective time and time again”

    The problem you have is that in 2010 (for example) there were 725000 violent criminals in state prisons and 15000 in federal prisons. This works out to a total of 740000 or about 0.238% of the US population which means that about 1 out of every 420 people in the US that have been caught have no qualms about ignoring whatever laws you pass and killing or injuring someone and the gun is often their tool of choice. So the bottom line is (1) The human race produces a few bad individuals prone to violence who just refuse to play by whatever rules you promulgate and until you find some way to identify these individuals and the courage to permanently eliminate them from society, innocent people are going to be killed (2) Because of these bad individuals, bad things happen every day to people who through no fault of their own were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Criminals will always have guns if they want them. If worst comes to worst they will be smuggled into the US from Mexico inside a bale of marijuana and sold on the black market.

  7. The hard-left Marxists who infect our federal government plus the MSM media who protect them will gleefully lie, falsify, fabricate, slander, libel, deceive, delude, bribe, and treasonably betray the free citizens of the United States..

    Second Amendment foes lying about gun control – The Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting. The Second Amendment has nothing to do with personal self-defense.Firearms are our constitutionally mandated safeguard against tyranny by a powerful federal government. Only dictators, tyrants, despots, totalitarians, and those who want to control and ultimately to enslave you support gun control.

    No matter what any president, senator, congressman, or hard-left mainstream media tell you concerning the statist utopian fantasy of safety and security through further gun control: They are lying. If their lips are moving, they are lying about gun control. These despots truly hate America..

    These tyrants hate freedom, liberty, personal responsibility, and private property. But the reality is that our citizens’ ownership of firearms serves as a concrete deterrent against despotism. They are demanding to hold the absolute power of life and death over you and your family. Ask the six million Jewws, and the other five million murdered martyrs who perished in the Nazzi death camps, how being disarmed by a powerful tyranny ended any chances of fighting back. Ask the murdered martyrs of the Warsaw Ghetto about gun control.

    Their single agenda is to control you after you are disarmed. When the people who want to control you hold the absolute power of life and death over your family, you have been enslaved. The hard-left Marxist and Islamists who infect our federal government plus the MSM media who protect them will gleefully lie, falsify, fabricate, slander, libel, deceive, delude, bribe, and treasonably betray the free citizens of the United States into becoming an unarmed population. Unarmed populations have been treated as slaves and chattel since the dawn of history.

    Will we stand our ground, maintaining our constitutionally guaranteed Second Amendment rights, fighting those who would enslave us?

    American Thinker

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