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On the Prevention of Mass Shootings

On the Prevention of Mass Shootings

Restricting Guns Capable of Mass Murder in Seconds 

By Zack Macomber 

This past month, March 2021, two mass shootings occurred: the Atlanta spa shootings on March 16, killing eight people, and the Boulder shooting on March 22, killing 10 and injuring more. Since then, gun control policies have taken over the front page, attempting to provide an answer to the question of how to prevent mass shootings from happening.  

“Literally we’re one of the worst civilized countries when it comes to gun violence. There always has to be a balance between individual rights and public safety and we haven’t found the appropriate balance.” – Kelsi Nash 

On the political side, many have criticized the way the Biden administration has approached the issue of gun control, stating that “for too long our policy has been reactive. Only serving as a measure to react whenever gun violence occurs, react whenever another shooting happens, whether it be on our streets and in our schools.” [1]  

How can policies be changed to become more preventative of mass shootings? For the most part, all answers revolve around either taking away guns or not. The United States is a unique country as it and only two other countries, Guatemala and Mexico, protect the right to bear arms for their citizens. [2] This makes it incredibly difficult to take away guns from U.S. citizens. While policies have become much stricter on the ways that people are able to get guns, it is not enough. The shooter in Boulder had legally purchased the weapon he used to kill 10 people. [3]  

It is obvious that our current system is reactive and simply hopes that people who purchase guns do not have ill intent for their usage. For me, the answer lies in stricter gun laws. No civilian should own a gun that has the capability to kill multiple people in a short amount of time. Period.  

Many people argue that the AR-15s that can be bought by noncombatants (meaning civilians) are not fully automatic, therefore they are not meant for military use. The gun used in the Boulder shooting was a Ruger AR-556 pistol, modified with an arm brace, that only took seven minutes for damage to be done. [4] The shooter had legally bought his weapon on March 16, just six days prior. [5] 

On a personal note, my hometown of Dayton, Ohio was subject to a shooting in 2019. It only lasted 32 seconds, but nine people were killed and 27 were injured. [6] 32 seconds. The damage would have been greater if the police were not in the area. The shooting took place on a Sunday morning, just after midnight. I worked the following morning at a coffee shop just six blocks down from where it took place. It is hard to explain how somber the whole week was. Many customers came in and expressed their confusion, frustration, desolation, and grief.  

There is not much a coffee shop can do in a time such as that; we offered free drip coffee to anyone who wanted it for the week. It was so surprising to see how much of a difference such a small gesture made. I brought a coffee over to a woman who had been there. She did not say much, but the look of gratitude she gave me is something I will not forget.  

“The people who hurt other with guns are already using guns illegally. Adding more regulations will only take guns away from those who could protect others from harm.” – Alexa Davidson 

Later that week, former President Trump came into town for a photo op to pay his respects to the nine people who lost their lives. He had stated multiple times, much like our current administration, that stricter background checks needed to be implemented. [7] Unfortunately, as seen in the recent Boulder shooting, more needs to be done than just background checks. 

The Dayton shooter, just like the Boulder shooter, had purchased his AR-15 rifle legally and was able to buy an extended 100-round magazine. Both passed the background checks. Both were deemed mentally stable enough to own a gun. One of the major arguments from gun rights activists is that anyone who wants to purchase a firearm must pass a mental health exam. While many mass shooters are portrayed in the media as having mental health issues, an FBI report from 2000-2013 (in which 160 incidents occurred) shows that only 25% of the shooters suffered from mental health issues. [8] 

I do not believe that the U.S. government should take away guns from current gun owners. Most people are responsible citizens who own or carry a gun for recreational use or their personal safety and the safety of their family. But there is no reason that a citizen should need to own a weapon that can inflict the damage as seen by the Dayton shooting or the Boulder shooting. While I know that stopping the sale of high-powered guns will not prevent all mass shootings from happening, it would be a step in the right direction. 

References 

  1. Summers, J. (2021). White house causes frustration in private and public responses to gun violence. NPR. Retrieved from https://n.pr/39NggiJ
  1. Weiss, B., Pasely, J. (2019). Only 3 countries in the world protect the right to bear arms in their constitutions: the US, Mexico, and Guatemala. Insider. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3rSaW3Q
  1. Sanchez, R., Murphy, P., Ellis, B., Vera, A. (2021). Here’s what we know about the Boulder, Colorado, mass shooting suspect. CNN. Retrieved from https://cnn.it/3dE4dFo
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Garza, A., Zennie, M. (2021). Dayton shooting lasted just 32 seconds and left 9 dead. TIME.  Retrieved from https://bit.ly/31McPnN
  1. Reuters. (2019). Trump visits Dayton, Ohio after mass shooting that shocked country. CNBC.  Retrieved from https://cnb.cx/3uqfC2t
  1. FBI. (2013). A Study of active shooter incidents in the United States between 2000 and 2013. FBI. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3mnoHWV
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