In what seems to be a weekly occurrence these days, another mass shooting has happened. It involved yet another mentally ill person with access to guns. But what made this tragedy so horrendous is that it took place at an elementary school and the assailant wasn’t a fellow student.
When innocent, defenseless children are slaughtered at the whim of a madman, it is time to take a hard look at the issues of gun control. In my mind, the answer is short, easy and accommodating for the majority of people. Ban all assault weapons and semi-automatic weapons. This fulfills the right to bear arms by allowing traditional handguns and hunting rifles, but it eliminates those devices that can click off bullets on a rapid fire succession.
I believe strongly in the right to bear arms and protect oneself. But if anyone can present a situation where a citizen has a needed use for an assault weapon, I’d love to hear about it. In the past year alone, we’ve had several instances of a heavily armed person going into a crowded, public place and firing on defenseless targets. Being able to continuously send a stream of bullets out maximizes the damage. Having clips that can hold dozens of bullets seems wildly out of proportion.
Critics will say that criminals will find a way to get these weapons even if they are banned. I can’t argue too much with that, but these mass killers aren’t serial inmates. They aren’t drug dealers looking for revenge. They aren’t mobsters or gang members looking to carry out hits on those that have fallen out of grace. Often, they are mentally ill recluses who are looking to make the biggest splash possible before meeting either their demise or a lifetime in prison.
The criminals will get their guns. They have the resources and means to do so, but that isn’t who I fear. Teddy the Shark might come after me if I owed thousands of dollars in gambling debts, but he isn’t going to put five pieces of steel in my head outside of Macy’s as he takes down 20 other people. The guy who will do that doesn’t have deep pockets or ties to the black market. He has voices in his head and a local gun shop.
Gun enthusiasts should welcome this change and gun opponents should recognize that this is a much needed compromise. Responsible adults should have the right to protect themselves and hunt, while irresponsible adults shouldn’t have access to mass killing machines. We must also keep in mind that gun control isn’t going to eliminate these types of situations, but will hopefully curb the extent of death. Around the same time the children in Newton were attacked, a madman in China wounded 22 children in a knife attack.
My attitude is to make it difficult for these mentally ill people to harm others. In a perfect world, if they were going to hurt others, they’d off themselves before taking that next step. But the world isn’t perfect. People in more and more communities are realizing that. We can’t cure mental illness and we can’t stop killings, but we should take the most reasonable steps to lessen their impact. I don’t see how this is even a debate.